We Don’t Get to Be Outraged by Apple Leaks

2 minute read
| The Back Page

News flash: we in the Apple-loving community don’t get to be outraged by leaks about Apple products. Not even when it’s a leak that may have—or did—come from someone within Apple.

I get why Apple gets cranky about leaks. The company does, after all, work intensely hard to keep things secret. That’s the thing, though. It’s Apple’s work in maintaining secrecy that puts value on those secrets in the first place. No one gives a crap what Intel’s going to to do a year from now because Intel tells us what it’s going to do a year from now.

The Apple Crystal Ball

But Apple doesn’t, and the company is worth almost a significant part of a trillion dollars. That makes Apple’s secrets worth something to Wall Street, publishers, and consumers. Wall Street and publishers alike are highly motivated to incentivize leakers (i.e. pay for information). Some Apple employees are incentivized to get their 15 minutes of anonymous fame, too. It’s all part of the ecosystem of people interested in what Apple does.

Put another way, Apple can’t have its cake and eat it, too, and neither can we, its fans. We’re the ones out here consuming this stuff; we’re the ones reading the stories about leaks; and, we’re the ones conferring our own value on these leaks, driven by Apple’s efforts and mixed success in keeping a lid on them.

It’s either a vicious cycle or a virtuous circle, or maybe both, but we don’t get to be outraged.

Same As It Ever Was

This stuff isn’t new, either. MacWeek used to give Apple employees and other sources a mug for leaked information. Apple sued ThinkSecret publisher Nick DePlume trying to get its sources (a settlement between the parties resulted in the site shutting down).

MacRumors, AppleInsider, and 9to5Mac have peddled a steady stream of rumors and leaks for years. The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Bloomberg, and other mainstream publications now have multiple reporters dedicated to discovering Apple’s secrets.

Millions of hands and eyeballs are involved in development, ramp-up, and manufacture of Apple’s products. As I’ve noted repeatedly, that’s too many people for Apple to keep things much of a secret.

While Apple’s latest GM leak is novel, leaks have been oozing out of Apple for always, interspersed by brief flashes of keynote mysteries (Mac Pro 2013, for instance).

Not Even Apple

The thing is, not even Apple gets to be outraged by this newest leak. In addition to what I mentioned above about Apple itself creating the market for leaks, the company uses leaks. Controlled leaks have long been part of Apple’s excellent arsenal for shaping the public narrative about the company.

There’s a difference between a controlled leak and a “rogue employee” leak—let alone a supply chain leak—but these things don’t exist in a vacuum. In a world where a controlled leak has value, other leaks are going to happen, too.

Of course, Apple can certainly go after leakers, and the company’s executives have every right in the world to sing us a song about how heartbreaking it is when employees’ hard work gets spoiled.

But spare me any pious bleating outside of Apple. At the very least, let he who has never published a leak cast the first stone.

It’s not our job to protect Apple’s secrets, and pretending to be upset when something like a publicly-available GM release gets leaked makes no sense when we participate in the culture of rumors surrounding Apple.

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ctopher
Member
ctopher

I personally agree with Bryan, but I would never tell someone else what they can feel.

That said, there have ALWAYS been leaks, its just that now, the stakes are much higher so the leaks appear in more mainstream media.

Feel how you like, but if you’re upset, you’re tilting at windmills. (oops, I did it too!)

mrboba1
Member
mrboba1

Yeah – another agreement with geoduck. You are way off on this one, Bryan. To touch on a point that wasn’t mentioned – to conflate the controlled leaks and one like this is quite a reach. The former is basically a press release from the company without the baggage of it coming right from the company itself. Much like in politics, you float out this stance, see how it is received, and use that information to adjust your positioning. You can then disavow if it is unpopular and move on with what people want. How in the world is that… Read more »

The Hooded Guest
Member
The Hooded Guest

Good posting from geoduck – completely agree. At the end of the day, if Apple choose to do controlled leaks to generate awareness or put tech media off the track (I would), then that’s their business and the appropriate people are in the know. But an employee, disgruntled or not, clearly violating an NDA is a different proposition altogether. What a dick move. However, whatever the reasons behind the actions of this employee, it won’t prevent me from watching the keynote. While I’ve skimmed some of what we’ll likely be seeing tomorrow, I still want to see the hardware, the… Read more »

Lee Dronick
Member
Lee Dronick

Leaks are not necessarilly facts and I hate how “the media” reports rumors and speculation as if it was from an Apple press release.

Member
Greg Helfand

The surprise and delight was part of Steve Job’s magic. I kinda miss that but I can’t help but look at all the rumors. I don’t like someone to spoil the ending of a movie but If I find out this info early, it’s ok as it gets me excited to see the event. I’m sure there will be some stuff that is new that wasn’t leaked.

geoduck
Member
geoduck

A First: I utterly disagree with you on this subject. If you were disgusted by how Gawker handled the iPhone 4 that fell into its hands, then you have to be just as nauseated by how 9to5 and others handled the big data dump over the weekend. One was a phone lost by an Apple employee that was not returned promptly as it should have been. Instead it was disassembled and mined for data that they had no business getting. The other was an Apple employee violating his NDA and dumping confidential information out to the press that they had… Read more »

Member
quakerotis

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

makeitup
Member
makeitup

Ditto!!!!!!!!!! Today will be like watching a movie I’ve already seen before. No anticipation. No thrill. No joy.

geoduck
Member
geoduck

I didn’t even bother to watch it. I already knew everything they were going to announce. The only surprises for me was that the new iOS will come out on the 19th and macOS on the 25th. Not a happy surprise.