Apple Employees’ Response To Recent Product Leaks: Blame China
It’s been a strange last few months for Apple product leaks. Despite Tim Cook’s promise to beef up the security at Apple after he took the CEO position, virtually everything Apple has released recently has been thoroughly spoilered before its official announcement. The iPhone 5 had every facet of its hardware leaked and widely publicized before it ever saw the official light of day, and now the same thing looks like it will happen with the iPad Mini, unless the hardware Apple unveils is substantially different than the numerous leaks we’ve seen already.
What’s happening, then? How are we getting all these leaks so far ahead of the official launch dates for these products? Well, according to some Apple employees interviewed by Ars Technica, it has nothing to do with Apple’s in-house security. The security restrictions on actual Apple employees are as stringent as ever, and involve everything from not showing prerelease devices to other Apple employees, to the monitoring of staff members’ IRC channel habits.
The leaks, these Apple employees say, are not on their end. Rather, they’re coming from the lengthy supply chain from which Apple sources all its parts. Thousands of workers across China and other global manufacturing hubs are working to churn out Apple gadgets ahead of their launches, and there’s very little Apple can do to prevent those workers from talking to journalists.
“Apple’s security practices are targeted at making sure US employees don’t leak stuff, but everything comes out of China now,” said one anonymous Apple employee. “I think Apple’s secrecy mode is really outdated.”
“You’ve got thousands of people working on manufacturing something who have no vested interest in keeping it secret,” another employee said. “It will be increasingly hard to hide the industrial design we do because we manufacture things overseas. Since we don’t do it in the US, it’s may be hard to surprise people over anything in the future.”
That’s the unfortunate reality of overseas manufacturing. While Apple might be enjoying the cheap labour and the subsequently huge profit margins, there’s a price to be paid. In this case, it seems that price comes in the form of ruining product announcements ahead of time. For Apple employees in the United States, the fact that they don’t get to have a big launch event that everyone’s excited about may be disheartening, but for Apple as a company, the hype machine that publishes the much-complained-about leaks looks like it’s doing nothing more harmful than helping sell a few million more iPhones.