Apple and AT&T Mobility have interfered in order to prevent a hedge fund, Standard General, from buying the RadioShack name and customer data. The hedge fund had won an auction to purchase the leases on over 1,700 RadioShack stores and then announced that it would spend a little over $26 million to acquire customer data. The problem that both Apple and AT&T have with this, is that Apple had an agreement with RadioShack that prevented the re-sale of data of Apple’s iPhone, and other Apple-buying customers. The $26.2 million deal still needs to be approved by the bankruptcy court, so they have both filed. There’s some good news for Apple and AT&T as US Bankruptcy Judge, Brendan L. Shannon, said last month that he will not approve the sale of customer data that cannot legally be sold. The data is believed to include 67 million physical addresses and 8.5 million email addresses and a hearing has been scheduled for 20 May to discuss the matter.
Apple’s filing states that, “In order to protect its customers’ personal information, Apple oversees the collection and use of customer information collected by its retail partners, including RadioShack. The reseller agreement between Apple and RadioShack protects information collected by RadioShack regarding purchasers of Apple products and prohibits the proposed sale of such information.” Apple are very clever marketeers and, of course, their protest concerns the sale of Apple customer data because customer data sold on to Standard General would not be under their control. AT&T’s issue is the sale of customers with an AT&T product. The filings are careful not to claim that the customer data does not belong to either Apple or AT&T, but the issue here is clearly neither business wants “their” customer data to fall into the hedge fund’s hands.
There are many reasons why a business would not wish for their customers’ data to fall into the clutches of a hedge fund, but chief among them is that there is no saying where the data will end up. Not all data mining companies are the same: very few people particularly look forward to a sales call, email or junk mailer, but Apple, certainly, are moderate in their offers and mailings. It’s not in their interest to receive customer complaints because they’re receiving a large number of mailings.