One major reason why Apple events have been lacking excitement this year is the prevalence of leaks. If we know exactly what the company is going to announce even before the events take place, it’s hard for Apple to impress. They still draw the largest hype and biggest interest of any company around, but that Christmas morning feeling is fleeting. And, according to an ArsTechnica report, it’s Apple’s humungous supply chain presence that’s to blame.
“By making even basic product specs highly desirable, the company gives disgruntled employees a simple but powerful way to vent their frustration through leaking,” ArsTechnica’s Jacqui Cheng said, noting that angry workers are “most eager to hand over information.”
Cheng says that security at Apple is actually the strictest it has ever been, despite the frequency of leaks. Prototype devices are allegedly shielded from prying eyes on the Cupertino campus, with only a select few getting clearance to take prerelease products home. (One would assume Gary Powell isn’t on Apple’s shortlist.) Security is actually so strict that workers get in trouble for leaking information to others within the Apple mothership.
But it’s at Apple’s global supply chain that the company is finding it difficult to plug leaks.
“Apple’s security practices are targeted at making sure U.S. employees don’t leak stuff, but everything comes out of China now,” one unnamed source told Cheng. “I think Apple’s secrecy mode is really outdated.” Another source said, “Clearly, the people who need the security training are not here. They’re not getting the same level of scrutiny as we are, and it shows.”
When it comes down to it, workers at overseas supply chains have nothing to lose when leaking information. Not only that, but there’s an obvious disconnect between the shielded Cupertino engineers and nameless factory employees. “Suppliers overseas don’t have that same level or loyalty, or that sense of accomplishment at creating interesting new products,” Cheng explained.
“Since we don’t [manufacture] in the US, it may be hard to surprise people over anything in the future,” another source said.
Ultimately, Apple will need to figure out how to improve security “on the other side of the pond,” if possible. If it doesn’t, that anticipation and hype for future Apple events may dissipate well before the product in question is even unveiled onstage. The iPhone 5 is the perfect example.