Numerous Mac web sites and mainstream media have spread the “rumor” of an impending $500 Mac and new Mac applications. The pro-Mac web site Think Secret was one of the first to release the information to the public.
Think Secret has often been the public source of accurate information (rumors) about new Apple product information, lending more respectability to recent news of a $500 Mac.
Is Apple attempting to plug a leak in the secretive corporate culture of Cupertino (thereby protecting important trade secrets), or is the Mac maker trying to intimidate the non-mainstream Mac media? Or, is this really a combination of both but with the added benefit (by design) of gaining tremendous public relations notice?
Here’s what cNet is reporting:
“Apple has filed a civil complaint against the owner of ThinkSecret.com and unnamed individuals who we believe stole Apple’s trade secrets…” “We believe that Think Secret solicited information about unreleased Apple products from these individuals, who violated their confidentiality agreements with Apple by providing details that were later posted on the Internet.”
Apparently both confidential marketing plans and technical capabilities were released.
Hmmm. I see a few problems developing on the immediate horizon. First, Apple is well within their rights to sue to protect trade secrets. The company is among the most secretive in the US technology field.
How many of us knew about the sunflower iMac before the Time Magazine article?
Apple’s lawsuit, successful or not, will have a dampening effect on a number of Mac sites which specialize in digging up secret information (also known as “dirt” or rumors) for those of us who simply can’t get enough just by using our Macs daily.
The quote above says Think Secret solicited information about unreleased Apple products from various individuals. These same individuals apparently violated confidentiality agreements with Apple. The Cupertino computer maker now wants their collective necks hung out to dry (to mix a few metaphors).
In the process, some Mac sites may scale back their dirt digging efforts in fear of the expense of a lawsuit or two from Apple.
To be fair, email links, comments links, and forums are breeding grounds for nearly anonymous “secret tending” and it’s quite possible that some sites, Think Secret included, did nothing more than repeat, embellish, and publish simple “comments” from readers who posted or emailed such, using a name that received more credibility as accurate product announcements stacked up through the years.
We have both anonymous Comments link and a feedback link. You could easily “send” me what you think Apple will do, and, if plausible, I could publish it on the web site.
Other than the links, no real solicitation took place. I wouldn’t and don’t know you from Heidi Klum’s ex. Could Apple sue this web site because of such “disclosure?” Apparently.
Personally, I think this particular lawsuit is probably dangerous for free speech. We could be held liable if you posted actual secrets on our comments list, or on a bulletin board/forum (should we ever decide to do such a thing).
Apple is protecting their trade secrets (once they’re public knowledge are they “secrets” any more?) by the lawsuit. They’re also inhibiting freedom of speech by intimidating members of the public who may simply “speculate” what Apple’s about to do (don’t say you haven’t done that!) and how they’ll do it.
That’s bad for freedom of speech.
Plus, Apple gets tremendous marketing and public relations mileage out of the whole trade secrets lawsuit issue (should the “secrets” turn out to be true). The $500 Mac became very public knowledge over the holidays, right? Some companies would kill to get that kind of press without paying a dime.
Remember former president Jimmy Carter’s Playboy interview and “lust?” Same thing. It was Jimmy “who” to Jimmy the cool candidate almost overnight.
So, for what it’s worth, an un-named source has provided the following “secret” information which we are releasing at this time for the public’s interest.
Apple will, early in 2005 announce a new monitor-less Mac, priced at $499 or $599, using a new, powerful, low-power CPU. The new Mac will ship with Mac OS X Tiger, a new iLife ‘05 application suite, and a new iWork ‘05 application suite which contains a word processor, a spreadsheet and database, and Keynote.
Current Mac users will not be allowed to purchase the new Mac as it is targeted at Windows users who are dissatisfied with their Wintel PCs.
Oh, and a flash-based iPod will be announced, too.