Stop the Noiz

Keeping Secrets Is a Good Thing

Frank Fox - 2008.07.31 - Tip Jar

You can't believe how sick I am of hearing about Apple's secrecy. How it is hurting the company. How investors don't like it. What a problem it is for Apple's partners not being able to talk. And just general bemoaning that we don't know what Apple will release next.

I'm sure all of this personally affects you and others in some way, but that doesn't mean Apple should or will change.

Competition and Secrecy

Imagine that Apple is a football team and Steve Jobs is something between a coach and a star quarterback. What if instead of going into the huddle, Jobs called out the next move in front of the opposition?

They would know where to go to intercept the ball.

What if Apple had smaller players and could only score by outsmarting the larger opposition. Jobs would have to work out some sneak plays that would fool the other team while moving the ball down field. Jobs couldn't use that play at every game or the competition would catch on and be ready for it.

The better the team is at pulling off these sneak plays, the harder it will be for other teams to defend against them. Secrecy is the only way to win at football - especially if you have the smaller players.

In football, behavior like this makes sense. We expect our team's quarterback to pull these kinds of surprises in order to win. Yet some can't accept this same secrecy from Apple, which is going up against some tough competition.

Armchair Quarterbacks

Like any armchair quarterback, lots of people think they can do a better job. When they start running a multibillion dollar company, maybe I'll listen to them. Until then, they can just be quiet and let the rest of us enjoy the game.

I love a new product launch from Apple. The design choice, the pricing, and the included features are all part of a coordinated game plan that we get to see executed during the Super Bowl (a.k.a. Macworld) and other times during the year. Sure, there will be people who gripe about the product choice, like the MacBook Air.

I hope I can see what Apple is trying to do, like I did with the MacBook Air, and go on cheering for my team.

I expect problems with new products. You won't see me rushing out to buy the first one. I like to see the line of people waiting to get one. I know that version 1.0 usually has problems. Anyone who thought MobileMe or iPhone apps weren't going to have problems doesn't know much about new products. (Granted, Apple is reported to have more than the usual number of problems right now.)

There have to be other ways to get email on the iPhone. My wife gets her email from our local provider and has since the first iPhone came out. She set it up herself, and she's been downloading and using apps without problems. She was smart enough to install only a couple of things. It's asking for trouble to install a dozen new things and expect that it will all be okay. You need a little patience when trying new things.

Apple should be smart enough to fix most of these problems in time. It usually does. It probably won't say too much about what went wrong, and people will go on complaining about the secrecy.

That's just too bad. People need to learn that Apple won't get ahead by shouting their business capabilities, plans, or ideas to the competition. LEM

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