BloombergLeaks about the iPhoneX upstaged the company’s rollout last year.DMAMBMCMDMEMGPREVIEWZBZBRZDZDRZFZGZQZRZSZTZU
Apple Inc. warned employees this week against leaking product updates and other coveted information with some sobering stats: the company had snatched 29 leakers last year, including 12 whose transgressions got them arrested.
Shy of arrest, the penalty for loose lips can mean instant firing and trouble finding a replacement job as the taint would spread in the tech world, Apple executives cautioned.
The warning, however, came in an internal — meaning employee eyes-only — blog that was shared with and roundly reported by media outlets late this week. Bloomberg, in fact, reprinted the memo.
Clearly, leaks about leaks get out.
Product leaks can make or break Apple’s stock price on any given day. Media defense of such action concedes, yes, that scoops matter, but also that Apple’s(AAPL) dominance in investment portfolios, including huge retirement funds and public pension funds, means that any information that gives stock holders an advantage, and holds the secretive, powerful company accountable, is fair game.
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Internally, the acts of leakers can have an impact company-wide, and not just on morale. Leaked information can suddenly cut sales of a current product model or allow rivals more time to answer with a competitive response.
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The new memo shared with staff that last month Apple caught and fired an employee responsible for leaking details from an internal, confidential meeting about Apple’s software roadmap. While hundreds of software engineers attended that meeting and most kept quiet, it only took one to reveal the proceedings.
And last September, leaks upstaged a company update on what would be named the iPhoneX after months of speculation about Apple’s next, higher-end, version of its now ubiquitous smartphone. The information drop included nuggets about the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8S models, based on leaked copies of new iOS 11 software. The massive leak just days before Apple’s launch event appeared to confirm some expectations about the new devices, such as the existence of a premium model, as well as to offer insight into exactly what features consumers could expect from the new gadgets.
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In addition to the iOS source code and the iPhone leaks, details have emerged ahead of schedule on the Apple Watch Series 3, Apple TV4K, HomePod and more, TechCrunch reported. And that all was in 2017 alone.
And sometimes old-fashioned reporting is what shakes up the information channel, such as a patent filing that hints at an Apple Watch that could analyze a bicep curl or a golf swing.
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Total containment of leaks at Apple, with 135,000 employees, may seem impossible. Still, the company continues its efforts.
Last year, the company held a staff-wide meeting where it discussed plans to prevent leaks and answered employee questions.
That meeting was secretly recorded and leaked to the press, too.
Rachel Koning Beals is a MarketWatch news editor in Chicago.
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