Last week when Gizmodo published pictures of the Prototype iPhone 4.0, I really wondered where their heads were at, if they had the angle of their justification for buying a lost device covered somehow and I just didn’t understand something.
I used to work Premedia for Financial Services, I remember very vividly how seriously this stuff gets taken.
I’ve had to sign a stack of NDAs as a condition of employment; when you are dealing with the release of insider information, it is almost impossible to calculate the value of having a piece of information before it is supposed to be available on the street.
And it terms of comparing value, a prototype iPhone is essentially off the charts in terms of the worth of the information; what would be worth more out there today? Seriously?
You could design a new spacecraft and I don’t think having it’s information in advance would top knowing what the new iPhone contains at this particular moment…
But I know how seriously it gets taken regardless, I’ve seen the FBI walk in and take people right out of our office for either leaking information before it was on the street or directly profiting from said information.
I can remember the launch of one huge tech IPO in the late 90’s, a document I held in my hand in finished form before it was ever public and in fact it was my responsibility to transmit it to a few select locations worldwide the day before it went live.
That night, a guy I’d never met walked up to me and offered me $100,000 on the spot if I would answer a question regarding the IPO; how he knew it’s code name or that I knew the answer I have no idea, but I just said no and walked away as fast as I could.
I made good money back then, but it wasn’t so much about the job that made me flee like a child, it was knowing the possible market and legal consequences to even acknowledging I knew anything about the question I was being asked; I worked on hundreds of these documents and different offerings back in the 90’s and this was the one and only time I was ever directly asked to divulge a specific piece of information, but no way would I even touch the subject at all. That was the only safe way to handle it…
Even today, 12 years later, I won’t say what company this IPO was for; its just ingrained into me not to.
I guess not everyone quite gets that mentality though.
Apple without question is quite secretive about certain things and it comes across sometimes as a bit excessive, I do admit.
But when an employee violates an NDA and shows Steve Wosniak an iPad right after launch, he gets fired. Assuming the NDA is still in effect, that is a legal department’s job. You don’t set rules and then not enforce them, you don’t set precedents that you don’t need to treat violators the same because of WHO you showed the iPad to; that is juvenile to expect HR to not fire the engineer.
Now you get into the Gizmodo issue; the Apple engineer that left the prototype phone in a California bar apparently still does have a job, but intentionally violating an NDA and losing a prototype are different animals. One is a willful violation, one is a horrible mistake, but still just a mistake
However Gizmodo didn’t make a mistake; they bought a prototype phone that they knew the seller didn’t own, they knew who did own it, they took the phone apart and published the specs and pictures of this iPhone.
My wife was looking at the pics, and she hit it immediately. How can they take a phone apart that they don’t own?
My radar wasn’t quite as quick as hers, but as I read Gizmodo’s iPhone 4.0 story last week I started to get that dread I used to get in Financial Services whenever someone asked an innocent question you knew you were not allowed to answer; I thought These guys don’t know what they are getting into.
Companies much less sophisticated than Apple time the flow of information of their products to coincide with certain other information based on their own motives; it has to be timed right for your company, you release or withhold certain information based on overall market conditions. You obviously don’t let competitors get an advance peek at your product before you want to show it.
You predict, measure and calculate all of these factors and then time release information based on all of it to maximize earnings potential.
And none of this occurred to Gizmodo?
I can’t imagine the value that Apple could place on the early release of iPhone 4.0 information, but kicking down a door doesn’t seem real extreme to me. These guys must not know what they are in for, Gizmodo may not exist soon enough.
…and don’t make the mistake of believing this is Apples and Oranges, these are Apples and apples, so to speak.
Imagine having iPhone 4.0 information and giving a tip to someone that you are about to leak advance iPhone 4.0 information and then the person you give the tip to buys Apple stock overnight, and it then after the specs are posted Apple stock goes up 7%. See the problem?
There are a lot of regulations in place to protect consumers and hold corporations accountable, but when it comes to the regulations protecting the interests of major corporations, a door getting kicked in is just the beginning…