Apple says hardware leaks harm consumers

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 29
Apple firmed up its stance on hardware leaks in a cease and desist letter addressed to a Chinese citizen in June, saying the publicization of unreleased products hurts consumers.

iPhone 13


In the letter, penned by Apple lawyers and sent to a known Chinese leaker and seller of prototype hardware, the company argues unauthorized advertisements pertaining to rumored or unreleased products harm consumer interests by diminishing launch day surprises, reports Motherboard.

"Such situations harm the interests of consumers and Apple. Therefore, it is obvious that when the unpublished information about the design and performance of Apple's products is kept confidential, it has actual and potential commercial value," Apple's letter reads, according to the report.

The tech giant takes pride in its ability to "surprise and delight," though a deluge of leaks from factories in China have severely hampered its ability to do so over the past decade. With leakers, analysts and major media outlets all eager to be the first to detail new facets of Apple's operation, true surprises are few and far between.

"Apple has made every effort to take strict measures to maintain confidentiality for any information about Apple's products before their official release to ensure that every time Apple releases a new product, it can surprise the public. The secret of Apple's latest technological innovation is an important part of the company DNA," Apple's letter reads.

Interestingly, Apple in part defends third-party accessory makers, or at least their customers, by noting these smaller companies "may develop and sell mobile phone cases and other accessories that are not actually compatible with the unreleased products."

It is unclear how Apple squares this logic. Many case makers seek out leaked schematics and other unofficial information to get a head start on production before a product's debut. The practice is well known and accessories for unreleased devices often pop up online months ahead of launch, meaning accessory manufacturers at least amplify the problem.

Apple also claims advertisement of unreleased hardware amounts to illegal disclosure of trade secrets. In this case, the Chinese leaker published "a large amount of information related to Apple's unreleased and rumored products" to gain "widespread recognition and a large number of followers" on social media platforms.

Today's report offers further background on a report covering a cease and desist letter first published on Wednesday.

Demand for information about iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac and other Apple product lines have created a cottage industry of sorts for people who can get their hands on unreleased devices. A number of high-profile leakers obtain hardware from insiders at Apple's Chinese plants, then publish pictures of their spoils online. Some sell the goods to buyers ranging from Apple fans to developers on the hunt for obscure software vulnerabilities.

Apple began to crack down on leaks in earnest last month when cease and desist letters were sent to at least two popular online personalities. The company is also rumored to be seeding disinformation about upcoming product launches to ferret out overly forthcoming employees.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 594member
    Apple is full of it, of course.  Secrecy hurts customers, particularly business customers.  It makes planning much harder when there's not even a vague roadmap, let alone knowledge of the next year of products.

    Surprises are for children's birthday toys.  They're completely inappropriate for technology.
    pulseimageselijahgpscooter63chemengin1
  • Reply 2 of 36
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,196member
    darkvader said:
    Apple is full of it, of course.  Secrecy hurts customers, particularly business customers.  It makes planning much harder when there's not even a vague roadmap, let alone knowledge of the next year of products.

    Surprises are for children's birthday toys.  They're completely inappropriate for technology.
    Completely inappropriate? Nonsense. In a highly competitive manufacturing business, leaked information can be incredibly costly when it allows competitors to anticipate new products or features and respond accordingly. Samsung would be delighted if they could have a detailed roadmap of Apple’s plans for the next five years. 
    rob53jrcopperbloggerblogRayz2016caladanianrepressthisaderutterpscooter63watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 36
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,052member
    darkvader said:
    Apple is full of it, of course.  Secrecy hurts customers, particularly business customers.  It makes planning much harder when there's not even a vague roadmap, let alone knowledge of the next year of products.

    Surprises are for children's birthday toys.  They're completely inappropriate for technology.
    Wow, you obviously know nothing about competition and business. 


    bloggerblogXedRayz2016repressthisaderutterpscooter63watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 4 of 36
    Hardware leaks do not harm consumers at all. I’d rather know a company’s product plan ahead of time so I can plan accordingly if next year’s model is just a small refresh or a serious overhaul. 
    elijahgmariowincoXedOctoMonkeyAI_liasfred1chemengin1
  • Reply 5 of 36
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,646member
    Leaks always cause stock market fluctuations which can be used to manipulate prices. Ok, always used to manipulate stock prices. They also harm sales of current products. As for corporate customers, deal with it. I had to be able to adjust future purchases on the fly. That’s just how things are done now. 
    Xedpulseimagesrepressthisaderutterpscooter63watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 6 of 36
    pascal007pascal007 Posts: 107member
    Leaks definitely harm Apple. Consumers? Not at all. 
    mariowincoXedOctoMonkeymuthuk_vanalingampulseimagesrepressthisGeorgeBMacAI_liaspscooter63chemengin1
  • Reply 7 of 36
    No matter what you think, it's still corporate espionage and Apple has a right to try to limit it as much as possible.

    All leakers seek to profit from the practice in one form or another.

    I have to admit I kinda miss the days of "one more thing."

    bloggerblogXedArchStantoncaladanianrepressthisaderutterpscooter63watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 8 of 36
    darkvader said:
    Apple is full of it, of course.  Secrecy hurts customers, particularly business customers.  It makes planning much harder when there's not even a vague roadmap, let alone knowledge of the next year of products.

    Surprises are for children's birthday toys.  They're completely inappropriate for technology.
    The horseshit is strong with this one. 
    XedArchStantonapplguyRayz2016radarthekataderutterpscooter63dewmewatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 9 of 36
    neoncatneoncat Posts: 43member
    The irony of the Apple White Knight squad rushing to the rescue on AppleInsider is pretty rich.

    We all know exactly why we’re here. 
    edited July 29
  • Reply 10 of 36
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,260member
    AppleZulu said:
    darkvader said:
    Apple is full of it, of course.  Secrecy hurts customers, particularly business customers.  It makes planning much harder when there's not even a vague roadmap, let alone knowledge of the next year of products.

    Surprises are for children's birthday toys.  They're completely inappropriate for technology.
    Completely inappropriate? Nonsense. In a highly competitive manufacturing business, leaked information can be incredibly costly when it allows competitors to anticipate new products or features and respond accordingly. Samsung would be delighted if they could have a detailed roadmap of Apple’s plans for the next five years. 
    Perhaps. But does it harm consumers. There’s a difference. 

    Will a leak of a new machine harm sales of the current one? Maybe. Does it harm the consumer? No - one could argue that it helps them because they don’t waste money on a machine a month before the new one comes out with more features at the same price. 

    Everyone knows a new phone will come out each year. The people who want the latest features wait. Those that aren’t so concerned don’t. Knowing the features ahead of time helps them actually make a choice. 


    muthuk_vanalingamAI_lias
  • Reply 11 of 36
    netrox said:
    darkvader said:
    Apple is full of it, of course.  Secrecy hurts customers, particularly business customers.  It makes planning much harder when there's not even a vague roadmap, let alone knowledge of the next year of products.

    Surprises are for children's birthday toys.  They're completely inappropriate for technology.
    Wow, you obviously know nothing about competition and business. 


    This poster knows nothing about a lot of things. From what I read his/her intention is to misinform. Him/her-other screen names and troll group should be completely disregarded. A harm to the great information outlet that the Internet and poster boards can be.
    Rayz2016robabawatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 36
    Hardware leaks do not harm consumers at all. I’d rather know a company’s product plan ahead of time so I can plan accordingly if next year’s model is just a small refresh or a serious overhaul. 

    False and confusing information is absolutely a harm to customers. "Leaks" assist in the mass of confusing information that us consumers already deal with (including, ahem, trolls that purposefully look to confuse the issue including disinformation posts, spreading gossip "leaks", troll farming/ruining products ratings systems). 

    It is completely unneeded confusion (a.k.a. harm) to consumers when current buying information available is clear: right now company A offers X and company B offers Z.. That's it for consumers. Now you want to speculate that Apple is likely to offer a new product in September -- as that is their schedule -- and what features you'd like? Perfectly fine but that isn't people with marginal knowledge branding their words as "leaks".  To make that point clearer, did you buy the big Apple Television or buy stock in Apple because they are now a green energy electric vehicle maker? I know you wouldn't buy anything Apple but I'm sure you get the point. 

    Here's good news for you. If you want to know what Apple(you don't) or Google or Samsung is going to release including the specs, those companies shockingly will announce it/release information on it when it's ready. Of course you may feel entitled to know anytime you want and laughably claim that's best for everyone -- back here in the real world you don't and it's not. 
    radarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 36
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,470member
    Anyone who says it doesn't harm consumers hasn't actually thought it through.   That does not mean leaks can also, in some cases, be helpful to consumers.  It's not either/or.

    Off the top of my head -- some harms to consumers

    * leak may not be correct or Apple may change a feature or product at the last minute.  Any decisions made by consumer based on leaked info are based on bad or incorrect info. 

    * leak may be incorrect.  3rd party accessory manufactured based on leak may not actually work correctly or fit. Consumer buying said accessory ahead of release in order to have it when the new Apple product arrives at their door has a piece of useless 3rd party junk.  

    * Apple may decide not to announce leaked product or hold it back for more work and consumers who pushed off buying something they needed in anticipation of the newer one now are SOL.  

    There are probably a dozen more obvious harms that you could come up with with a half hour of thought.  

    There are also advantages consumers gain by leaks, such  as, if the leak is correct, advance knowledge that may help them make a "better" decision on a coming purchase 



    radarthekatpscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 36
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,533member
    AppleZulu said:
    darkvader said:
    Apple is full of it, of course.  Secrecy hurts customers, particularly business customers.  It makes planning much harder when there's not even a vague roadmap, let alone knowledge of the next year of products.

    Surprises are for children's birthday toys.  They're completely inappropriate for technology.
    Completely inappropriate? Nonsense. In a highly competitive manufacturing business, leaked information can be incredibly costly when it allows competitors to anticipate new products or features and respond accordingly. Samsung would be delighted if they could have a detailed roadmap of Apple’s plans for the next five years. 
    This doesn't address Apple's premise that product leaks hurt consumers.  The only one that gets hurt is Apple, not consumers.  So yes, Apple is full of it as long as they're premise is that it hurts consumers.  
    muthuk_vanalingamGeorgeBMacelijahgpascal007
  • Reply 15 of 36
    neoncat said:
    The irony of the Apple White Knight squad rushing to the rescue on AppleInsider is pretty rich.

    We all know exactly why we’re here. 
    Yes, it is pretty clear why you're here.
    radarthekatpscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 36
    chadbag said:
    Anyone who says it doesn't harm consumers hasn't actually thought it through.   That does not mean leaks can also, in some cases, be helpful to consumers.  It's not either/or.

    Off the top of my head -- some harms to consumers

    * leak may not be correct or Apple may change a feature or product at the last minute.  Any decisions made by consumer based on leaked info are based on bad or incorrect info. 

    * leak may be incorrect.  3rd party accessory manufactured based on leak may not actually work correctly or fit. Consumer buying said accessory ahead of release in order to have it when the new Apple product arrives at their door has a piece of useless 3rd party junk.  

    * Apple may decide not to announce leaked product or hold it back for more work and consumers who pushed off buying something they needed in anticipation of the newer one now are SOL.  

    There are probably a dozen more obvious harms that you could come up with with a half hour of thought.  

    There are also advantages consumers gain by leaks, such  as, if the leak is correct, advance knowledge that may help them make a "better" decision on a coming purchase 



    You listed 3 bullet points.  All three are the exact same thing worded differently.  The "harm" you've repeated is someone may regret a buying decision.  That's it.  That isn't a harm to consumers and it isn't a consequence of leaks.  It's a consequence of everyday buying.  Every product we buy -especially tech- has the same frame trap: buy current or wait to buy future new.  Going even further down the tech rabbit hole you get the ones like me who debate on buying current or waiting to buy gen 2 (where they work the kinks out of gen 1).  In none of those instances is there a harm to consumers.  

    You say there are probably dozens more you could come up with, but you haven't actually come up with one real harm to consumers.  You've simply highlighted examples of people who make bad purchasing decisions.  It's not really the same thing.  In fact, I can't really think of a single time an Apple leak as caused harm to consumers.  Can you?  I doubt Apple could either, or else they probably would have mentioned it as an example of the "harm".  

    Leaks are a business issue.  Consumer issue? Not so much.
    muthuk_vanalingamavon b7gatorguyfred1elijahg
  • Reply 17 of 36
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,270member


    In the letter, penned by Apple lawyers ...

    "Such situations harm the interests of consumers and Apple. Therefore, it is obvious that when the unpublished information about the design and performance of Apple's products is kept confidential, it has actual and potential commercial value," Apple's letter reads, according to the report.


     Was this statement that leaks harm consumers made out of stupidity or hubris (thinking whatever is good for Apple is good for consumers)?

    Oh wait!   Never mind!
    ... It was made by a lawyer.  That explains it. 

  • Reply 18 of 36
    dk49dk49 Posts: 135member
    Though there are some very valid reasons for Apple to keep upcoming product details a secret, I have always wondered if this actually helps Apple create a hype and anticipation amongst people before the launch, hence giving even more attention to new launches? Some people say companies leak some details on purpose to create hype. 
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 36
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,901member
    Consumers can't be harmed by anything that isn't official.

    A 'leak' only becomes a leak once the product or service is confirmed. Until that moment it's simply a rumour. 

    Secrecy actually helps to spin the rumour mill so if they want to stretch things in one direction, they can easily be stretched in the other, too. 


    muthuk_vanalingamelijahg
  • Reply 20 of 36
    xyzzy01xyzzy01 Posts: 90member
    There are two issues here: For consumers, more information is good as long as it is reliable. This is even more valid for Apple customers, since Apple maintains a stable price from introduction until it is replaced rather than gradually decreasing it through this time. As a customer, you want to avoid buying models that will soon be replaced to give one obvious example.

    As an Apple customer, it's also good that there are extensive leaks to third party accessory makers so that there is a good selection of e.g. cases, armbands for running etc as soon as possible after launch.

    Apple, OTOH, wants to avoid the leaks for multiple reasons. Surprising the customers is one aspect, to get the maximum media impact around launch. Decreasing the time to react for the competition is another reason. Thirdly, the more you can delay third parties making accessories, the more you can charge for a partnership program for selected vendors. Finally, Apple has a different interest than the customers when it comes to selling close-to-being-replaced hardware at full price - they want to sell it, even if it the customer would be better off waiting (weeks or months).
    gatorguyelijahgwatto_cobra
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