Is it me only or what, but Obama Fed is playing a hard ball with Tim Cook (all while when Obama is having party of his lifetime in Cuba with his family and friends from Congress). Feds are saying that they do not need Apple to unlock the iPhone. What is more damaging to Apple - to have helped Fed to get on a terrorism case or to get globally advertised that their vaunted 'data locks' in the end are no good?
Obama may be all near and dear to Silicon Valley, but clearly Valley does not seem to match the 'bare knuckle' politics as well as the technological competence what Feds can marshal. Silicon Valley may feel at the center of the technology world. Past luminaries like Andy Grove indeed have made this place as one of the greatest on this planet earth. But alas, humanity at large is still bigger than a single valley; if wanted it can always pool talents all around - that is what the Fed prowess shows in this case. Talent and technical competence are available all over the world. Better for the Valley not to be arrogant there. Generally folks around my home town - astoundingly accomplished and fabulously rich folks of Cupertino & Valley around - are down to the earth and mind their own business. That is one of the most charming and admiring things about this place.
But in this fight against Fed, Apple got caught up in between a hard and rock place. Tim Cook, by his personal life style and by his natural political orientation, inclines towards a libertarian point of view - tending towards giving maximum privacy to users of his company's products. In fact compared to Steve Jobs, Tim Cook has distinctly made Apple to move in that direction. Clearly, that is one area where he has stepped out of the shadows of colossal Jobs. Growing market for products all across the world where privacy is retained, naturally made a business sense too. Besides arguments that Chinese Government would force 'any such back doors' to abuse consumers of Apple products are valid too.
But even after having said all that, in the end Tim Cook needed Apple to bring around helping Feds here. Terrorist acts and threat of terrorism are too big of a concern for Apple to deny Fed's legitimate request of opening the iphone of the attacker of San Bernardino. Courts sided with Feds too, wisely. In the end, even if one single 'life' is saved from a terrorist attack or national security threat; billions of dollars of profits for all powerful Apple do not matter too.
Apple with it's army of smart lawyers would have found a way to co-operate with Feds in this case without opening the gates completely to likes of Xi Jinping. It was an opportunity for this lawyer class to thread the needle. They blew it here, if indeed Fed is able to walk the talk - brake the iphone without Apple.
What a nightmare for the mightiest company of the world!