Mac Scope

Be Thankful for Apple Secrecy

Stephen Van Esch - August 16, 2000

There was a time (or so I'm told) that Apple leaked like a sieve with bullet holes in it. Everyone knew which products where coming out and when. Specs were freely available, and rumors were often true.

What a long way Apple has come. Getting ideas in and out of Apple now seems like an exercise for a Special Forces unit. Even after the rumors make it onto the Mac web, doubters and believers still argue back and forth over the validity of the photos or reports.

I've read a few articles that grumble about this state of affairs. Why can't Apple just throw a bone to the press and let us know what's going on?

Rumors, especially lately, generate a lot of commentary and discussion. From "Shut up and wait" to "This product can't be remotely possible," articles and opinions fly fast and furious. Content is what drives web sites, and rumors provide writers with plenty of content to fill their pages. Whether the content is always good is another matter.

Of course, the content spent debating what may be a non-existent product could be used to debate the merits of a forthcoming product, right? Well, sure, but then we'd lose all the discussions and arguments that occur after the product introduction. Secrecy guarantees lively discussion before and after the product is introduced.

The second benefit is a spin-off of the first. All this discussion creates a buzz in the Mac and computer community. We get excited, we talk about it, and we want to see which rumors are true and which are not. This buzz is not restricted to Mac-centric web sites. Slashdot and The Register are two sites that occasionally post Mac rumors. This is great and helps non-Mac users realize that Apple is still alive and kicking in the computer industry.

Steve Jobs and the marketing folks at Apple realize this. In a world where marketing is at least as important as the research and development that goes into something (take a peek at any commercial for a Hollywood movie), hype goes a long way. You just can't buy the type of marketing that a good rumor can generate.

Elimination of rumors and opening the Apple idea chest, even a little bit, would cut into the amount of excitement new products from Apple generates. This, of course, is unlikely. Steve Jobs loves a surprise and any mention beforehand of a product just spoils all the fun for him (and for us too).

I'm willing to put up with way out rumors that may or may not be right instead of the bland predictability found elsewhere in the industry.

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