Sign In with Apple – what’s the impact on brands’ apps and data strategy?

Following Apple’s developer conference, this September all iOS apps offering a third-party sign up button, such as Google or Facebook, must also promote Apple’s new Sign In with Apple button.

Why is Apple doing this?

Apple is doubling down on its efforts to differentiate from its competitors by putting its customers’ privacy first.

The company feels so strongly about privacy by design that it’s happy to demonstrably flex its scale (some even argue its monopoly) in the app marketplace to enforce this rule on millions of apps. This is despite the risk of annoying developers and putting itself further in the sights of the anti-monopolistic US Department of Justice.

For customers concerned about who accesses and uses their data, Apple is doing the right thing. But what does it mean for brands who collect customer data?

Firstly, no matter the size of your brand, all brands will need to adopt the ‘Sign In with Apple’ button if they use third-party sign in systems. Whilst Android has the largest install base, Apple has the majority of most valuable customers. Brands with apps who want to be on their platform need to adhere by Apple’s rules.

I’m really worried – my brand relies on Facebook and Google for customer sign ups!

Don’t be. If you’re using the data primarily to contact them, Apple will still let you do this – you just won’t know much, if any, information about them. You can also rest a little easier knowing you’re not passing information about your customers to third-parties who are likely to misuse this data.

Brands who don’t have their own sign up infrastructure will primarily find Sign Up for Apple as another development overhead – it’s something else to adopt, even if the implementation details will be similar to the other sign up buttons they’re already using.

But my brand sells our customer data – it’s how we make money

The biggest uproar over Apple’s new sign in policy will be coming from this sector – and precisely why Apple is changing the rules; so customers can choose how their data is used. You’ll now need to work harder to convince your customers why they should give you their information directly to sell. It evens up the playing field, ensuring brands that do the right thing with customer data continue to be present in the App Store, whilst brands that refuse are removed.

My brand runs its own sign up system – I don’t see any benefits of Sign In with Apple

If you’re a brand with your own sign up system, Apple’s new rules won’t affect you. You can continue to run your own sign up page and use your own infrastructure to store your customer’s data.

However, it’s worth considering that Sign In with Apple may provide positive benefits for you and your customers: customers can sign up quicker to your app – Sign In with Apple is connected to their Apple ID and Apple will handle email address verification for you, saving you a step in the on boarding process.

It will reduce the risks of handling personal information – you’ll only have an anonymous randomised email address, but all the benefits of still being able to contact the customer as Apple will forward the email sent to the anonymous email address to the customer’s Apple ID email address.

The biggest risk to established brands is that if a customer is particularly valuable but refuses to reveal who are they because they’re using Sign In with Apple, there’s nothing you can do to identify that customer. This may impact your ability to track and market the customer across channels if your brand relies on this to monitor and influence customer journeys.

Brands will need to adapt – this is precisely where Apple is strongly on the side of the customer and are firmly focused on giving customers the choice to provide their information rather than it being the default.

Sign In with Apple is great for customers. It will force less savoury brands to clean up their data policies or risk being evicted from the App Store, and ensure that brands who care about their customer data and the improved customer trust this brings get the space in the App Store to thrive.


First published at New Digital Age.