Apple Once Purchased 30,000 iPhone Enclosures to Keep its Secrets

A fascinating story on The Outline today tells us lots and lots about Apple’s commitment to keeping things secret – and it proves how challenging keeping secrets actually is.

Leaks everywhere

I guess Apple’s secret-keepers will see the irony that an internal briefing describing how it goes about keeping its confidences has, erm, leaked. All the same, it’s a fascinating insight into how complex doing so is.

Here are a few nuggets that help illustrate this complexity:

  • When Apple was about to launch the iPhone 5C in 2013 the company had to buy around 30,000 iPhone enclosures from big electronics markets in China at which leaked and stolen Apple components are sold.
  • Things have got a lot better since then: In 2014 387 enclosures were stolen: in 2016, just four were stolen.
  • In one case, a person employed at Apple HQ in Cupertino who was leaking information was eventually identified after a three-year investigation.

One more thing: Apple put this team together after the infamous incident in which an iPhone 4 was left in a bar only to be reported by Gizmodo, months before its release.

Surprise is Everything

The Outline has published a fascinating report. I urge you take a look at it – but for me, the inference is clear: There’s not going to be so many Apple leaks in future, and those things that do leak? We’ll have to spend more time asking ourselves if they are real leaks, placed leaks, competitive market spoilers, or click-bait.

My final point?

We don’t really need leaks to speculate on Apple’s future. All we really need is good knowledge of Apple’s history, some awareness of current tech industry trends and market needs, and a little imagination to figure out where the puck may be going. It’s a little more inexact, but while it is always going to be interesting to know what shape a future iPhone might be it is a whole bunch more valuable to have some understanding of why it had to be that shape.

Jonny Evans

Watching Apple since 1999. I don't say what they should do. I say what they might do. They sometimes do.

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