There's a New York Times article out today on the legendary aura of secrecy that surrounds the Apple corporation. In an era when many tech manufacturers are working to become more open, Apple is just as closed as ever. While their competitors are leaking info through Twitter and other social media outlets as a matter of corporate policy, Apple still employs draconian punishments for employees who break confidentiality.
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It's a strategy that's allowed the Cupertino-based gadget giant to continually shock the world with industry-altering new products, but it's also taken a toll on their workforce. The Times article quotes several former Apple employees who relate stories of frequent witch-hunts for leaks and extreme security measures put in place to ensure that nothing gets out before launch day.
Being a trendsetter has its benefits, but it also means that everyone is going to start prying into your business to try and figure out what's next. Secrecy, then, is Apple's greatest asset. It also gets them a ton of free PR. Upcoming Apple products are usually surrounded by more rumors than just about any other product. That gets them a lot of attention in the media and keeps anticipation at a fever pitch right up until the day of release.
Just look at how well secrecy worked for the iPhone 3GS. The vast majority of the early rumors we heard were bogus, and most of the concrete leaks didn't hit until a day or two before the WWDC announcement. Apple was able to keep the competition off-balance and unsure of exactly what they had brewing, while still keeping consumer interest high.
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Apple's (read; Steve Jobs') paranoia is a little bit unsettling, but it's pretty clearly working for them. Shine on, you crazy diamonds.