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What Does Apple Have Against Public Transparency?

June 24th, 2009 posted by · 1 Comment

Apple Campus - One Infinite Loop

Apple is one of the most popular companies around today. They have already pretty much revitalized how we listen to music, talk on the phone and access information in a mobile environment. With such a cultural impact, it’s no surprised that the coolest company around would want to keep things locked down behind the scenes.

I read an article today from the New York Times that looks at this very issue. While most companies go out of their way to connect with their customers, whether it be on Facebook, blogs or Twitter, Apple does the complete opposite and keeps hidden away.

Secrecy has long been the way Apple does business, with every from new product development, the health of its founder Steve Jobs, to what exactly is behind the doors of its California campus.

Secrecy at Apple is not just the prevailing communications strategy; it is baked into the corporate culture. Employees working on top-secret projects must pass through a maze of security doors, swiping their badges again and again and finally entering a numeric code to reach their offices, according to one former employee who worked in such areas.

Work spaces are typically monitored by security cameras, this employee said. Some Apple workers in the most critical product-testing rooms must cover up devices with black cloaks when they are working on them, and turn on a red warning light when devices are unmasked so that everyone knows to be extra-careful, said an anonymous employee.

Perhaps Apple is the only company that can actually get away with being so private and still be liked. I don’t think consumers mind too much how Apple communicates, just as long as they continue to pump out amazing products.

Most governance experts do seem to agree on one point: that the secrecy that adds surprise and excitement to Apple product announcements is not serving the company well in other areas.

“In this environment, where transparency is critical, the more information you give the marketplace the better,” said Charles Elson, director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware. “For a technology company that views itself as innovative, it’s a little odd that they are getting a reputation for lack of transparency.”

As for the Apple insiders who leak information to tech sites like TechCrunch and others, Apple is rumoured to have a task force that seeks out the sources of leaked information on a daily basis, and quickly eliminates the situation. And by eliminate, I mean fire the parties responsible for the leaks immediately. Anybody else a little intimidated by Apple?

Photo: Kimberly White/Bloomberg News

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1 Comment so far
  1. Bradley Nordstrom MyAvatars 0.2

    cool post.You have a talent of blogging.Any ways I love apple.