On Confidentialiity

Friday, January 13th, 2006 | Geek Stuff

I’ve got a buddy of mine who I met years ago and is a HUGE Apple fan. Big Mac guy and seems to buy at least one of nearly everything we do (I’m exaggerating but only kinda). As long as I’ve known him he’s been DYING to get the secret scoop on whats the next big thing and I have never told him anything that wasn’t already public information – and it FUCKIN KILLS HIM. Its almost sport at this point cuz every time I just shrug to one of his questions he looks like wants to smack me. Its kinda funny..

So anyway. We’re out for drinks last night with his business partner and he asks another one of his questions and I do my usual shrug to which he has his usual response and then the conversation moves on. Later, while he’s off doin whatever, his business partner asks what that was all about. I explained our little rapport and the history behind it – then explain that there is more to it than that. And here’s the scoop.

I actually believe personally in the need for Apple to keep shit confidential until launch – and its for two important reasons. First is the obvious financial reasons. The fact of the matter is we make money by selling products. We make enough product to cover demand. When new products get leaked before we’re ready to sell them people stop buying the existing products, inventory builds up, and it has a real impact on the company’s bottom line. The thing that I always tell friends is that worrying about what’s coming next is like worrying about whether the sun will rise. It always will rise and we’ll always come out with new products. Make your buying decisions based on your needs now and just deal with the fact that at some point your machine won’t be the newest and thats OK – it does what you want it to do… The only people that conceptually get hurt by buying a machine the day before a new one are the size queens who want the latest toy – and frankly, they should be buying when the previous product is announced rather than late in the cycle…

The other reason, which is actually more important to me than the financial reason, is personal. We BUST OUR BALLS trying to make great products and part of the satisfaction of doing that is the ‘Wow factor’ when the product is finally launched. It is SUCH a great feeling to work one of these shows and have people just giddy to get the product that you’ve ruined your life to deliver. When the launch is truly a surprise and has accurate information it is more gratifying than you can believe to see and read user’s responses to the product – it really makes the pain worth while. However when the fuckers at Think Secret and other rumor sites pre announce this stuff it blows a lot of that surprise. And, what is worse, is their information is 9 times out of 10 is WRONG, either completely or partially. The result is the reaction is more along the lines “Oh.. Well thats cool.. but I thought it was gonna do X.. When will it do that?”. People frequently over look all the cool things it does that the rumor sites don’t even notice and fixate on the thing that it was ‘supposed’ to do. Its really frustrating. This last MacWorld was no exception – the rumor sites spent a lot of energy hyping bad information and, as a result, many people didn’t really get how cool what we DID launch was. New Intel Macs that scream, a bunch of great new software, great financials, and others. Thats COOL – its not our fault the rumor sites fucked up.

The Engineers on my team and around Apple BUST THEIR BALLS to get great products out on the market, often sacrificing sleep, a personal life, and their health. These folks deserve their day in spotlight without it being tainted by misconceptions by rumor mongers. So just sit tight – we’ll continue to announce cool stuff.

(sorry – that was more soap-box-ey than I intended… I just feel strongly about it after 14 some years at apple.)

Happy Friday

8 Comments to On Confidentialiity

January 13, 2006

For what it’s worth, I was wow’ed. And yes, a little envious of the new MacBook Pro’s since I just bought a new laptop last November. I’ll get over it, though — and now I know what to save up for next, or at least until something else new, shiny and cool comes out.

January 13, 2006

I appreciate getting to read your opinions on this subject Pete. As a FCP/Aperture using Apple nut, I really do appreciate the hard work that you and the rest of the Apple team put into all the products. I hadn’t really considered how rumors (right or wrong) would make an Apple employee feel, so your post is very interesting. I attended the keynote and was really excited (despite reading all the incorrect rumors) about the new PowerBooks and the forthcoming Intel-native pro apps. The new FM/remote announcement is cool, too.

I was disappointed in a few things announced at the keynote, but not because of the rumors I’d read. I’m annoyed that I’ll have to pay for an upgrade to Aperture (just purchased a month ago) just to use it on a laptop that has enough oomf to actually run the application acceptably. I’m also disappointed that the MacBook Pro remote is IR (instead of Bluetooth), has a lower screen resolution, and is missing FW 800. Also…where are the freebies this year? No posters, t-shirts, etc. at the Apple booth? I understand that the products *look* nearly identical to previous models, so posters would be boring, but at least give us Apple stickers, t-shirts…something!

I was disappointed to feel like there was more to “taint” the keynote announcements this year than just incorrect rumors, but I’m excited to watch for future announcements this year…I’m sure there will be more than enough cool new products to keep me satisfied (and I won’t even bother to ask you for a hint…I want to be surprised)!

God of Biscuits
January 13, 2006

Amen, brother! 😉

I get the same thing now that I’m at Apple, too.

I might add that overall, I know less about what the rumors are now than I did before I started working there.

People want to know, but they don’t want to know, y’know?

Now that I’m on your side of this whole type of situation, Pete, I understand a whole lot more of the nuances of why we keep our mouths shut than I did when I’d ask you how things were going over there at Apple and you would shrug and say, ‘fine’.

You bastard. 😉

January 13, 2006

So, you’re not going to tell me if I should wait before buying this new MacBook Pro.


And after all of the dinners I’ve cooked for you…

January 13, 2006

Jeff – All fair criticisms… I’m all for Apple taking its lumps if we deserve it – customers are paying our bills and if we’re not doing our jobs we deserve that feedback too.. Good or bad I wanna hear it – just want it based on facts rather than conjecture… 🙂

And yes Patrick.. of COURSe you should get the MacBook if you’re in the market for a new machine.. Its fucking cool.. but thats not based on any inside knoledge… I just think its cool! :):)

January 13, 2006

As a Mac nut since c. 1988 I’ve never been disappointed. Cocktails all around to those of you who keep the innovative juices flowing (not to mention the jig my portfolio’s done.. Heh.)

But, can I just say I’m really, really, really (did I mention REALLY? okay, REALLY!) glad I didn’t buy that 20″ iMacG5 last month like I was two baby steps away from doing? Because, well – it kinda sucks for those who did, eh?

Core Duo – same price, twice the machine…

I’d go for the MacPro but I really like having a desktop AND a powerbook and I can’t ju$tify upgrading both at the moment. Sigh.

as typed from my now archaic 17″ rice pod … which BTW, still kicks PC ass.

clem h
January 13, 2006

Pete – Well said & Ditto.

January 26, 2006

I take back what I said previously (thanks, Apple!):

Universal Version
A Universal version of Aperture, which will run natively on both PowerPC- and Intel-based Mac computers, will be available before the end of March 2006. New and existing owners of Aperture will be able to crossgrade to the Universal version at no additional charge via Software Update.