Facebook Exec Nick Clegg Takes Unsubtle Jab at Apple’s Business Model

A senior Facebook executive took a veiled shot at Apple, continuing the sniping between the tech giants as their business models are under increasing scrutiny from global regulators.

According to a new report from Business Insider, Facebook’s newly-minted head of global affairs, Nick Clegg, spoke in Berlin on Monday, calling Apple — but not by name — an “exclusive club” serving only “aspirant consumers with the means to buy high-value hardware and services.”

Clegg, the former U.K. deputy prime minister, argued that criticisms about tailored advertising on the social network fail to underscore that the product remains free for users, unlike products offered by Silicon Valley rivals.

Facebook is free — it’s for everyone,” he said. “Some other big tech companies make their money by selling expensive hardware or subscription services, or in some cases both, to consumers in developed, wealthier economies. They are an exclusive club, available only to aspirant consumers with the means to buy high-value hardware and services.”

Both companies claim some piece of moral high ground as part of their brand.

Clegg further added: “There’s no exclusivity at Facebook. No VIP access. No business class. Our services are as accessible to students in Guatemala, cattle farmers in the Midwest United States, office workers in Mumbai, tech startups in Nairobi, or taxi drivers in Berlin. More than 2 billion people use our platforms — because they can.”

His remarks follow those of Apple CEO Tim Cook, who called an unnamed social media firm a “chaos factory” during an address to Stanford University’s graduating class. Cook was urging graduates to use tech for good when he made the remark.

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