Former exec: Apple orchestrated tablet launch leak

— 2:15 PM on January 8, 2010

Some bloggers have compared Apple's management to the Nazi Gestapo for the tactics it uses to make sure juicy details about new products don't escape into the wild. However, the firm's aura of secretiveness may be little but a front. Behind closed doors, The Mac Observer reports, Apple carefully orchestrates leaks to purposes that range from pressuring partners and confusing competitors to gauging public reaction.

Where's the evidence? The Mac Observer's John Martellaro explains, "I know, when I was a Senior Marketing Manager at Apple, I was instructed to do some controlled leaks." The former executive elaborates:

The way it works is that a senior exec will come in and say, "We need to release this specific information. John, do you have a trusted friend at a major outlet? If so, call him/her and have a conversation. Idly mention this information and suggest that if it were published, that would be nice. No e-mails!"

The communication is always done in person or on the phone. Never via e-mail. That's so that if there's ever any dispute about what transpired, there's no paper trail to contradict either party's version of the story. Both sides can maintain plausible deniability and simply claim a misunderstanding. That protects Apple and the publication.

Martellaro goes on to name Monday's rumor of a January 27 tablet launch as a "classic example" of a controlled leak. The way he sees it, Apple approached the Wall Street Journal—a credible source—and released information to two different reporters, so that each could then claim, "I thought he told me to run with this story! Sorry." The company made sure to bypass famed columnist Walt Mossberg, who writes in the same All Thing Digital blog, to keep his hands clean. Finally, Apple timed things so the story would run on Monday afternoon. That way, "no one could ever suggest there was any attempt to manipulate the stock market." Clever, if true.

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