Where technology and economics collide
Apple wages a constant war on leakers designed to ensure it can unveil new products on its own terms. But the leaks never seem to stop, and it’s evident they won’t anytime soon.
The Outline’s William Turton obtained a leaked recording of an Apple presentation on Apple’s anti-leaking efforts, hilariously highlighting how difficult it can be to stop leaks.
The presentation reveals the elaborate steps Apple takes to safeguard the secrecy of its products. Apple has recruited a large team of anti-leak investigators, including people who previously worked at the National Security Agency, the FBI, and the Secret Service. One investigation lasted for three years.
“These investigations go on a long time,” Lee Freedman, who was an assistant US attorney before leading Apple’s investigation team, said in the recording. “We don’t take a defeatist mentality and say, ‘Oh well, it’s going to leak anyways.’” In one case, Apple pursued a case for three years before identifying the leaker.
One of Apple’s big challenges has been leaks from manufacturing facilities in China. To prevent these leaks, Apple requires Chinese workers to be searched as they enter and leave factories where Apple products are made. In the recording, an Apple official bragged that Apple screens more people than the TSA: “Their peak volume is 1.8 million a day. Ours, for just 40 factories in China, is 2.7 million a day.”
Apple has less draconian, but still extensive, security procedures at its American campuses.
Apple’s brass believes that all this secrecy helps the company’s bottom line. Early leaks of a forthcoming product could discourage customers from buying Apple products that are already on store shelves. And the surprise of a big Apple product reveal makes news organizations more likely to cover it.
At the same time, it’s hard to be sure if any of this really matters. Apple loyalists are going to buy a new Apple product sooner or later. And Apple is such a prominent brand that there’s little risk of customers not hearing about a new Apple product.