Few tech companies guard their forthcoming products as closely as Apple does.
After the iPod’s massive success, Apple began limiting access to information on developing products, both inside and outside the company.
Leander Kahney, author of “Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products” is well-versed in the company’s cult of secrecy.
Kahney details how Apple went to great lengths to restrict knowledge about new products to as few employees as possible in order to avoid leaks.
In a section titled “The Iron Curtain,” Kahney underscores Apple’s intense devotion to keeping products under wraps right up until their launch. This paragraph is especially telling (emphasis ours):
A former Apple engineer who worked closely with Jony’s group in the product design team said the secrecy could get exhausting,” writes Kahney. ‘Out of everything I’ve done in my life, I’ve never seen a more secret environment than working there,’ he said. ‘We were constantly under threat of losing our jobs for revealing any shred of anything. And even within Apple, your neighbours often didn’t know what you were working on…The secrecy was like a gun to your head. Make one false move and we’ll pull this trigger.‘
Because Apple’s engineers work in small, closed-off groups, Kahney says designers rarely receive public credit for their work. This seems not to bother them, though, as their leader Jony Ive is effusive with praise internally.
Nonetheless, Apple’s commitment to secrecy is impressive, especially considering its size. The company’s “gun to your head” attitude about leaks seems to be working, since most product leaks come from their supply chain, not Apple itself.