When Apple says “buy,” consumers around the world jump to follow the command. Only Apple can release an expensive new gadget like the iPad with limited advertising and no pre-existing market, and somehow end up selling 300,000 of them on the first day alone. One comedian noted later on Saturday Night Live that the iPad’s massive sales were proof “that people will buy something to find out what it is.” But it’s really just proof that Apple has mastered the art of building consumer curiosity in its products to the point where the masses will spend hundreds of dollars to satisfy that curiosity.
It’s been nearly 10 years since the company released the first generation iPod, and in that time, they have become one of the most popular and powerful businesses around. Bloomberg and Business Week consistently rank Apple (Stock Quote: AAPL) as the most innovative company in the world, beating out Google (Stock Quote: GOOG). Meanwhile, Steve Jobs, Apple’s figurehead, was recently declared the CEO of the decade by Fortune.
Yet, all that praise obscures the fact that Apple and Steve Jobs are anything but perfect. Like all companies, they have skeletons in their closet. In fact, they may have more than their share.
Apple Is More Paranoid Than You Think
Earlier this week, Gizmodo, a popular tech site, published leaked photos of what was supposedly the next generation iPhone, set to be released this summer. Allegedly, the phone had been left at a beer garden by an iPhone software engineer, and eventually the phone ended up in Gizmodo’s hands. Many bloggers debated whether it was real or just a knockoff, but then Apple came calling to get their device back. As one Silicon Valley insider told The New York Times, “There is no one else on the planet whose shoes I would less like to be in” than the engineer who accidentally left the phone behind.
It might sound like a lot of fuss over nothing, but Apple prides itself on secrecy, often to an extreme degree. No one faces greater scrutiny than Apple’s employees. One employee told The New York Times that workers are often under the watchful eye of security cameras. “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,” the employee said.