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Apple and the Scalability of Secrecy

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the ask-the-government-about-that dept.

Businesses 155

RobotsDinner writes "Anil Dash has a thoughtful exploration of Apple's notorious devotion to secrecy, and argues that not only is there a limit to its feasibility, but that recent events show Apple has reached that limit already. 'If the ethical argument is unpersuasive, then focus on the long-term viability of your marketing and branding efforts, and realize that a technology company that is determined to prevent information from being spread is an organization at war with itself. Civil wars are expensive, have no winners, and incur lots of casualties.'"

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Yeah (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28906463)

First!

Re:Yeah (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28907603)

Shit you know the fanboys are angry when a run of the mill first post gets modded troll rather than offtopic or redundant. Apple fanboys are angry and they will burn a pre-school full of kids over it.

Wow! (1, Interesting)

ithinker (1134481) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906495)

I am wondering how to measure the scalability of secrecy?

Re:Wow! (4, Informative)

anildash (779863) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906559)

While I admittedly was stretching the technical definition of "scale" when titling my original post that's linked here, the word also has a meaning in non-technical contexts, within which this made sense. I could have gone with something like "Is Secrecy Tenable?" or something like that, but for better or worse we tend to find alliteration evocative in English. At any rate, if your only quibble is with one word from the 2000+ I wrote in the article, then I think I'm pleased that the rest of the message is resonating.

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28906609)

if your only quibble is with one word from the 2000+ I wrote in the article...

His quibble is with one word from the six in the Slashdot headline. This is /. nobody RTFA here.

Re:Wow! (0, Offtopic)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907059)

Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant and vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition! [He slashes a large V through a propaganda poster.] The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. [giggles] Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it's my very good honor to meet you and you may call me "V".

Re:Wow! (5, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907063)

Anil,

When I started working at Apple, a colleague in product marketing explained to me exactly what the secrecy was worth to the company, in dollar terms.

Apple got the cover of time magazine when the iMac G4 came out. Apple got that coverage, because they had something to offer to Time, and they had it to offer because of the diligence with which they maintained secrecy. You can't buy Time's front cover as an ad placement. If you could, it's easily worth tens of millions of dollars. Your claim that Apple doesn't get free press due to the secrecy is complete nonsense.

The rest of your list is basically pulled out of your ass.

-jcr

Re:Wow! (2, Informative)

bheer (633842) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907229)

Imho the secrecy helped them with new product designs and new product categories (e.g. the iPhone and the putative Mac Tablet), but the radio silence that precedes a little tweak in hardware specs is pretty stupid. People catch on it too -- all the fanboys who clamored for "one more thing" and got nothing did notice -- google for [WWDC boring] and see. But I suppose the continued secrecy helps build the Apple mystique.

Re:Wow! (4, Insightful)

garote (682822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907307)

This was one of the reasons Apple extricated itself from the major trade shows years ago, and completed the transition last year: Sometimes they have something big to announce, sometimes they don't. The fact that there's a trade show scheduled is not an indicator of one or the other.

Apple doesn't want to Osborne itself to death (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907755)

the radio silence that precedes a little tweak in hardware specs is pretty stupid.

Is it stupid, or is it Apple trying not to Osborne itself to death [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Wow! (2, Interesting)

kardar (636122) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907851)

Which helps the consumer.... how?

Making the front cover of Time means your product is better?

If anything, it's a unified ability to get people to "do their best work". And it shouldn't stop there, and that shouldn't be as painful as it has often gotten. It can and should be par for the course, no unpleasantness required. Much research has gone into this area of corporate culture - the unpleasantness isn't required.

It's interesting, you know -- it seems that Apple is Steve, and perhaps vice versa. And Steve has this "thing" for "devices". He's obsessed with the device. The black cube, the sleek sexy all-in-ones, and that's cool...

But did you ever notice how it really wouldn't mean anything if Microsoft wasn't ubiquitous? In other words -- to have that cover of Time magazine (and to have it mean anything significant), Apple has given up 35%-45% of desktop market share (or better). How on earth is that worth it? Price of success? Hardly.

Apple plays off of Microsoft's ubiquity and plainness. In a world where 90% is Windows, Apple stands out. In any other world, it would be more like Frank Lloyd Wright or Pininfarina. Nice, interesting, beautiful, but decidedly niche. It's front page material because of everything it's given up to not compete with Microsoft. Of course, then the question is does Wall Street value market share, or is it more important to go after and get 91% of the $1000+ PC market? Passion for the "The Device".

It's the only way to make the concept of a "device" work in the marketplace. Play it off MS's ubiquity. Bounce it off Windows' boring and often generic nature. Migrate the focus to uncharted territories -- wireless, controversial Napster territory, and so forth. Contrast it to ubiquity, blandness, and low-budget compromises, and use your awesome resources to leverage your way into entrenched, stifled areas. Not so much to help the consumer, but to peddle "The Device". Point being, Apple can do better. Apple should do better.

Is it really necessary to make the front cover of time to give stockholders a good deal? To give customers a good deal? Is my consumer experience made better if my device is on the front cover of Time? Or is it purely stroking someone's ego? Could tens of millions of dollars be made by simply COMPETING with Microsoft (something Apple is capable of doing quite well at this point in time)?

Unfortunately, great leaders tend to "go nuts", sometimes, taking down entire leagues of followers with them. It's the nature of genius, perhaps. Seeing things others don't see, while fixated on a narrow goal -- in this case, "The Device". A flying saucer landed in my back yard and left me with this unique, fascinating object. Get over it, man. Apple, essentially, wants to have its "devices" (at least in the PC world) stick out so much, it's willing to give up perhaps 45% market share on the desktop to Windows, perhaps similarly significant market share to Linux on the server side, simply to have its devices "stick out". And the consumer loses choice, the developer gets frustrated, the employee loses significant quality of life. Pointless pain and suffering, unnecessary inconvenience.

To some extent, this "sticking out" is leveraged by gains and innovations with the ipod and the iphone, perhaps the tablet -- but man oh man -- an MSI Wind or Dell Mini 9 running OSX86 rocks. Where's Apple? Do they care about the consumer at all? Or just the image? Exactly how much do they sacrifice to maintain that image?

It's such a shame too. I guess it all boils down to this -- Steve is an inspirational dude, he runs a tight ship, and that tight ship has historically churned out some nice, innovative hardware and software products -- and continues to do so. But... consequently... Apple is CAPABLE of much more. We KNOW Apple can do better than it's doing. You may say it's doing great, but we KNOW it can do BETTER. Much, much, much better.

Apple is capable of doing better. It's the genius student, the teacher's pet. Yes, those are unreasonable standards, but Apple is capable of matching them and then some. It CAN do better, but it's fixated on "The Device". It needs to stop trying to be Ferrari and take advantage of the biggest opportunity in the world -- being more like a Honda or a Toyota. Both in the mobile, desktop, and server arenas.

The mobile arena is the only place right now where the "device", or Frank Lloyd Wright concept still works at all, due to the mobile arena's expanding and morphing "nature", which, arguably is essentially a result of an entrenched, profit-hungry, consumer-unfriendly environment. Apple is at this point, obviously, having a hard time balancing this entrenched, unfriendly nature with its "passion" for peddling "The Device". Sad, really, if you asked me. Although good things might come out of it -- more openness, and so forth. How much that has to do with Google, that's also a good question -- probably Google is doing more here to move that along - has Apple inspired them? Perhaps, perhaps not. Google might have done it anyway. Nevertheless... innovative, superior technology is applicable everywhere. Apple is totally capable of this and then some. Apple is capable of MORE. Much, much, much more. That may seem unfair, and perhaps it is, but when you've got it together like Apple does, and Windows has 90% market share, it's rather insane (and extremely sad) to not let that light shine.

Don't get me wrong... Apple is doing great, but they can do so, so, much better. Apple could easily have 45% market share on the desktop, and maybe a significant share on the server as well -- the technology is there, the software quality is there, and it would be a shame to see something like OS X get relegated to a non-multitasking, insecure, flashy, ego-centric, overpriced yet brilliantly conceived mobile device, when it could be so much more -- how many people would rather have an MSI Wind with OS X for $300 something and choices from there vs the overall price of what an iphone costs?

I think we're in a position where we can't just let Apple do what it wants. The consumer stands to lose too much. Innovation stands to lose too much. The only thing Apple has cared about up to this point is "The Device". This needs to change. Microsoft at 90% on the desktop, this is totally unfair to the consumer. Competition is good for everyone. Competition will allow Microsoft to innovate and compete on those innovations, competition will allow Linux to innovate and compete on those innovations, and this will be good then.

Main thing, then - Apple can do better. Apple can be more. Apple is the only hope right now for any choice whatsoever for the vast majority of people out there who don't have the time or technical knowhow to deal with Linux. And that's a lot of people. $1 from each of those people would probably buy Time magazine outright.

Re:Wow! (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 5 years ago | (#28908079)

Guy Kawasaki? Are you getting into Steve's coke stash again???

Re:Wow! (4, Insightful)

Old97 (1341297) | more than 5 years ago | (#28908091)

Gee, you must be a self made billionaire with all this business insight you have. Apple doesn't look for market share. A lot of companies such as Honda and BMW, don't. Others, like GM and Toyota do seek to maximize market share. Would you rather invest in GM or Honda? Apple looks to maximize its ROI and that in part means sustaining relatively high margins. They've been wildly successful at doing that since Jobs returned. If Apple played the same game as Dell or Microsoft, they'd not be as successful as they are. They'd be another Dell or Microsoft or they'd be out of business.

As to what is "good for the consumers". That's not what major corporations are about. Their job is to maximize profits/shareholder value. There are many strategies for accomplishing that. Microsoft and Dell have theirs and Apple has its. Doing what is "good for consumers" is sometimes a byproduct, but that is not their primary goal. It's the market and the "invisible hand" that are supposed to deliver an end result that is "good for the consumers".

Business and markets are not about morality or altruism. They are about return on investment. The theory is that this will end up being good for "everyone" and sometimes it works out that way, but it's not the responsibility of the participating concerns to forego their own economic self-interests in order to accomplish that.

Re:Wow! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28906569)

I was wondering something too, somebody please help me out with this. Every time I go to the grocery store or a shopping mall I see this and I wonder.

Does "FIRE LANE - NO PARKING" translate to "NIGGERS PARK HERE" in Ebonics? If so, it would explain a lot of otherwise hard to understand behavior.

How secrecy can fail to scale (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907763)

I am wondering how to measure the scalability of secrecy?

Number of customers you can have while still maintaining a given level of secrecy. It's one thing to keep a secret when your organization is small enough to serve 100 or even 100,000 people; it's another thing to keep it from 100 million.

I bought an ipod touch today, it's going back. (1, Offtopic)

kawabago (551139) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906501)

I bought an ipod touch today only to find out that without iTunes you can't access it at all. I'm running Linux and iTunes doesn't work with Wine. Ipod touch goes back in the morning. The ipod touch and the iphone have such hideous vendor lock in Microsoft must get a hard on just thinking about it. I hate Microsoft and now Apple is starting to give me a rash. Openness where are you?

Re:I bought an ipod touch today, it's going back. (4, Informative)

sam0737 (648914) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906527)

Openness where are you?

Android?

Re:I bought an ipod touch today, it's going back. (1)

kawabago (551139) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906821)

I don't want to phone home.

Re:I bought an ipod touch today, it's going back. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28907577)

Nokia N810/N800 allow any program you like on them and don't come with an advertiser taking data about all your habits back to central servers to build a profile.

Re:I bought an ipod touch today, it's going back. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28906531)

I run Linux too. I just "activated" it with a friend's Windows machine. Then you can use it completely without iTunes, including the downloading of songs/apps. Don't give up so easily, it's a good product.

Re:I bought an ipod touch today, it's going back. (2, Insightful)

prockcore (543967) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907465)

Same here, I have a mac at work, but I run linux at home. So today, to get the iphone SMS patch, I had to sync at work. I'm lucky I heard about the patch before I left work, otherwise I would've had to go all weekend with a vulnerable iphone.

Re:I bought an ipod touch today, it's going back. (2, Informative)

mrstella (1596983) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907039)

Get an Archos, a Zen, or any other number of MP3 players that are not only cheaper than the overpriced, underspec'd touch, but also work without any form of stupid vendor lock in software!

Re:I bought an ipod touch today, it's going back. (1)

JakartaDean (834076) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907193)

I bought one for my GF at Christmas, and she loved it, still does. I don't, because like you I run linux only at home. She had to take it to a friend with an Apple to get a bunch of games and songs installed. Now she's happy, and I never have to support it. Hmm... maybe I'm on to something here?

Re:I bought an ipod touch today, it's going back. (0, Flamebait)

SlashWombat (1227578) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907279)

I hate Microsoft and now Apple is starting to give me a rash.

I have always thought Apple made product that was technically inferior to the equivalent IBM style hardware. (This is still true ... just looking at an Apple Laptop proves it (and they still have a one button mouse) They have always been secretive, and if it wasn't for the artyfart fan boys, Apple would have been long gone. The one thing Apple seems to be good at is marketing. Apple marketing could successfully sell ice to Eskimo's.

Re:I bought an ipod touch today, it's going back. (0)

macs4all (973270) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907405)

I have always thought Apple made product that was technically inferior to the equivalent IBM style hardware. (This is still true ... just looking at an Apple Laptop proves it (and they still have a one button mouse)

Does THIS [apple.com] qualify as a "one button mouse"?

if it wasn't for the artyfart fan boys, Apple would have been long gone.

Wow, then the number of "artyfart fan boys" must not only be legion, but is actually GROWING at a phenomenal rate, especially when compared to the [lowendmac.com] PC Sales slump overall [wired.com] this year.!

Fucking TROLL.

Re:I bought an ipod touch today, it's going back. (2, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907623)

wow your an idiot.

The apple touch pad supports not only scrolling but multiple mouse clicks, and right click all through ONE button pad.
MSFT is the master of marketing. apple uses secrecy so that when a product doesn't have a certain feature(like WinFS in Vista ) they don't get bad press for years afterwards.

Apple's biggest reason for secrecy is so they don't let down fans with a product that can't pass QA at the last minute. MSFT and Dell will both ship products that fail last minute QA and "fix" them later.

Re:I bought an ipod touch today, it's going back. (0, Troll)

Mprx (82435) | more than 5 years ago | (#28908021)

So they actually managed to make something worse than the one button mouse: the zero button mouse! It's now impossible to click without coming to a clean stop, completely negating the screen edge Fitts's law advantage Apple used to brag about. And the "right click" is the same fake right click as found in the Mighty Mouse, where it's really just a different style of left click, not an independent input channel at all.

Re:I bought an ipod touch today, it's going back. (0, Troll)

macs4all (973270) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907309)

Yep. There's absolutely [yamipod.com] no [kde.org] way [banshee-project.org] to [gnu.org] use [gtkpod.org] an iPod [sourceforge.net] under [gnome.org] Linux [getsongbird.com]

Now, don't you start your whining about your precious Ogg and FLAC [simplehelp.net] or-anything-else-support [lifehacker.com] neither!

Now STFU, you fucking Troll...

Re:I bought an ipod touch today, it's going back. (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 5 years ago | (#28908143)

You're so busy calling everybody here a troll that it seems to have slipped your notice how badly you're getting trolled.

So flip around in the bottom of the boat. Your ego is too big for the livewell, so you'll just have to suck air down there.

Tool.

Re:I bought an ipod touch today, it's going back. (3, Informative)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 5 years ago | (#28908099)

Apple has historically BOASTED about their closedness.

The original Macintosh came in a sealed box, and was dubbed 'Hacker Proof' (in the classic sense of people who like access to their stuff) at all the early Press Events. The machine was introduced as a reaction to and against, those of us with our Osbornes and TRS-80's and all the other machines that were thriving in an open community. Then Apple nailed the point down further by suing anybody else who dared adopt a GUI, wiping out all the small players and essentially creating Microsoft's monopoly for them (it took Microsoft and HP's legal heft to come out with a GUI operating system 'for the rest of us.' The small competitors like GEM were run out of the market.)

I PREDICT (4, Interesting)

linhares (1241614) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906515)

That after the FCC probing into Apple's nasty rejection of Google Voice, from now on we're gonna have to live with Michael Arrington proclaiming how, in his modesty and disregard for material things he [techcrunch.com] saved the world from tyranny.

May god have mercy on us all.

Yet, as I mentioned in the other [slashdot.org] /. submission, here is one tiny shred of reason to think that a government entity might, just might, have a tiny shred of value. And the FCC made it clear that a "blanket" of confidential docs concerning this would not be accepted, which means at least *some* info concerning the latest brouhauha will be public. Seriously, for once, kudos to the FCC.

Re:I PREDICT (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906617)

I would have rather had the FTC or the DOJ, lauching this probe rather than the FCC.

I doubt the FCC can tell Apple what they can and can't put in their app store. The FCC simply has no standing in this area. Apple may not want to piss off the agency that approves new handsets, but realistically the FCC has little leverage on Apple.

The FCC does have jurisdiction to hold ATT's feet to the flame.

If it turns out that ATT told Apple not to accept these apps, citing some boilerplate non-compete clause in their contract, that would be a Microsoft Moment. (Microsoft ordered Compaq to restore IE to prominence on the desktop, or lose the right to sell windows. Justice department saw it differently).

There is always the possibility that Apple quietly leaked to FCC that ATT was violating some rules/regs. Apple would make sure they too get called on the carpet at the same time as ATT for plausible deny ability reasons.

And we can't overlook the possibility of Google quietly putting its oar in.

Who ever made the decision to block Google Voice, picked the absolute worst time to do so. Congress has already sent the FCC on a slash and burn mission into the cell phone market.

Of late, the FCC has actually seemed to be on the side of Joe Average Citizen, compared to 10 or 20 years ago. Yes, they might come out with another Janet Jackson ruling, but it is equally likely something good will come of this.

We can only wait and see.

Apple makes Cellphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28906823)

Cellphones are very much under the control of the FCC. Apple can't even market them without FCC approval.

Re:Apple makes Cellphones (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906995)

But does that mean the FCC can withhold approval of a cell phone because the maker refused to answer a question the FCC had no authority to ask?

Is that what you mean to imply?

Re:Apple makes Cellphones (1)

prockcore (543967) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907477)

Why wouldn't they have the authority? They've been tasked by the government to investigate cellphone practices. That includes contracts between hardware manufacturers and cellphone companies.

Re:Apple makes Cellphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28907499)

The FCC has any and all authority it needs to ask questions about the hardware and software used to access spectrum granted by FCC. Yes it can withhold or revoke hardware certifications and grants if you do not answer any and all questions they ask concerning hardware and the software that runs on it. This includes decisions you may have made to not allow or allow certain software to run on your hardware.

Re:I PREDICT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28907479)

Yeah, why should the Federal Communications Commission have any say over Apple's handling of a communication application that runs on a communication device??? That's simply ludicrous!

Re:I PREDICT (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28906639)

Apple's biggest secret: Steve Jobs' HIV infection and the mandatory infection of all Apple employees, including Apple Store employees.

Re:I PREDICT (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28906679)

FCC: 1. Why did Apple reject the Google Voice application for iPhone and remove related third-party applications from its App Store?
Apple: Because they didn't meet our standards for iPhone applications.
FCC: 6. What are the standards for considering and approving iPhone applications?
Apple: We do what the hell we want.

Re:I PREDICT (1)

prockcore (543967) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906977)

Those answers would be surprising.. since Apple has been trying to blame AT&T for rejecting apps like GV and Sling.

sometimes secrecy is necessary (5, Insightful)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906563)

I happen to work in the game industry - there is a lot of secrecy in our industry too, by absolute necessity. Most games would get crucified if they got leaked to the press or the public too early in the dev cycle. Most people are not used to filling in the blanks - ignoring the rough edges, or even disregarding the aspects of an early product that just plain suck. That's all part of the development process, but consumers are used to seeing just the slick, final product (well, even that's not guaranteed nowadays unfortunately).

There's also some other very good reasons not to go blathering on about features that haven't even been developed yet: those features might get cut for budgetary, creative, or technical reasons, and then you look like an ass for not delivering on what you promised.

I'm not defending Apple's business practices necessarily, but I'm just saying that throwing your doors open to the press and public isn't the panacea that this guys is making it out to be.

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (1, Interesting)

Entropius (188861) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906629)

My issue with Apple shit isn't secrecy before it's released; it's secrecy and proprietaryness *after* release.

I was given an ipod as a gift. I regifted it after it took me 45 minutes to figure out how to play music on the damn thing (after trying to cp *.mp3 /dev/sdb1 multiple times and wondering why it wouldn't play the files), and after I realized that you can't replace the battery. Li-Ion gets old, you throw it out. WTF?

Their hardware certainly is pretty, and well-engineered in a lot of cases. But if I can't make it do what I want it to do (rather than what Apple wants me to do with it), it goes down the crapper.

In summary: if I buy a computer, I want root on it.

(Yes, I know you can hack the things. But lots of other people sell hardware I don't have to wrestle into submission for it to do what I want.)

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (5, Insightful)

dasmoo (1052358) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906727)

Yeah, but the general public don't really care that they have to use itunes to copy songs. The database that itunes generates when copying your files across makes the interface respond quicker. Sure, there's other music solutions, some better, but most are worse.
Also, if you want your hardware to look nice, it needs to have less openings, less buttons. If you want it to work all of the time, you have to take out the ability for human error. Apple gets this, and because of that people get apple products.

Don't get get me wrong - Linux is what I do for a job. I'd still be hard pressed to be recommending it to anyone who didn't know what they were doing, because there's far too many things they could mess with that would break it.

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907787)

The database that itunes generates when copying your files across makes the interface respond quicker.

Then why can't the device turn itself on and rebuild this database after the USB mass storage has been disconnected? If you've been an Apple fan for long enough, you could even consider it like "rebuilding the desktop".

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28908093)

The general public do care when their iphone breaks, they get sent a new one, and the new one deletes all the music they purchased with the old one.

This happened to my girlfriend. Neither me or her could work out how to get it back. A trip to thepiratebay rectified things.

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (5, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906739)

Because attempting to overwrite an entire partition with an mp3 file makes perfect sense.

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (2, Interesting)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907685)

My firends and I used to do it with floppy disks all the time. You could wedge a frew more seconds of audio on those if you dispensed with the file system. We could play them directly from the disk too. It was sorta like a tape deck, but with one song tapes.

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (3, Informative)

LKM (227954) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906763)

You can replace the battery, it's just not simple. No need to throw it out. And all iPods use simple databases maintained by a desktop application (usually iTunes), so you can't simply copy mp3 files to them.

iPods are not open devices. They're usually not the best choice for hackers.

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907791)

And all iPods use simple databases maintained by a desktop application (usually iTunes), so you can't simply copy mp3 files to them.

A lot of people would call it a defect if the device cannot maintain its own database, unlike comparable MP3 players.

iPods are not open devices.

Which comparable open device would you recommend that U.S. residents buy instead of an iPod Touch?

The mount command is your friend. (1)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906765)

mount -t auto /dev/sdb1 /mnt/why_do_my_partitions_keep_getting_erased

Re:The mount command is your friend. (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907811)

mount -t auto /dev/sdb1 /mnt/why_do_my_partitions_keep_getting_erased

mount: file system type not recognized

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28906783)

"after trying to cp *.mp3 /dev/sdb1"

Let me tell you about a little tool called "mount."

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28907095)

The reason iPhones and new MacBooks don't have easily-replaceable batteries is so they can have more space to hold bigger batteries, and thus have longer battery life. It's a tradeoff, but I for one prefer having a laptop with 5+ hour battery life or a phone that can go 3 days without charging to saving $100 when I do replace the battery in 3 years. If you don't like it, buy another product.

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907475)

a phone that can go 3 days without charging

What phone would that be? It's certainly not the iPhone 3G, even by my wife's minimal-moderate usage (very little data, almost never WiFi, and not more than an hour calling a day, usually 20 minutes).

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28907749)

That'd be 3 days with *no* usage.
20 minutes of talktime is a fair amount of actual usage, and if you live out in the sticks or somewhere where the phone towers are spread far, your battery use will be even worse.
Add on to that some small amount of 3G, and you said no more than an hour" and you'll soon be raping the battery. So your standby time will reduce down, to maybe 2 days, maybe a bit more, depending on settings, how often it's used rather than sitting asleep....

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (1)

nxnikos (859425) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907943)

So let's get this straight... 3 days with *no* usage. Since there is *no* usage does it matter if the battery is charged or not? I'd say you can do infinite days with *no* usage!

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (2, Insightful)

beej (82035) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907903)

It's a tradeoff, but I for one prefer having a laptop with 5+ hour battery life or a phone that can go 3 days without charging to saving $100 when I do replace the battery in 3 years. If you don't like it, buy another product.

That's actually a great suggestion. My previous non-Apple phone could go 4 days without charging, and I replaced the battery myself in 10 seconds for $15. My non-Apple laptop runs for 6.5 hours on a user-serviceable battery. Apple's not going to change this as long as they make more money on non-user-serviceable parts--why should they? And can one really blame them?

When you buy an iPhone, for example, you can buy an extended warranty for $70 that covers the battery replacement.

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (4, Funny)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907101)

it took me 45 minutes to figure out how to play music on the damn thing

It took you 45 minutes to figure out how to use an iPod, and you're somehow capable of using a web browser and navigating to /.?

I've given iPods to little kids who've figured them out in about as much time as it took to connect the USB cable.

-jcr

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (4, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#28908373)

The OP should have phrased it better: "It took me 45 mins to release that syncing to an iPod is different than copying files to a USB drive using Linux. I returned it because it didn't work they way I wanted it to work." The reason why the iPod is so popular is the fact that if you accept the default settings, it takes you one step to sync: Plug in the USB cable. Before the iPod, the process took multiple steps and varied depending on device. Not exactly the most consumer friendly process. Before the iPod, MP3 players were simply geek gadgets because it took a geek to operate one. Apple made them consumer gadgets and making the sync process easy was necessary to accomplish it.

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (1)

macs4all (973270) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907449)

I regifted it after it took me 45 minutes to figure out how to play music on the damn thing (after trying to cp *.mp3 /dev/sdb1 multiple times

You're really sad. Really, really sad. Hand in you Geek Card immediately. You obviously don't know how to use this thing called the In-ter-net. If you did, you'd see that it is YOU that is deficient, NOT the iPod...

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (1, Flamebait)

mambodog (1399313) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907493)

trying to cp *.mp3 /dev/sdb1 multiple times and wondering why it wouldn't play the files

You were trying to do *what* to an iPod?!

RTFM, n00b.

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907829)

I read the manual and it said the iPod requires a $200 operating system (Windows) or a $600 dongle (Mac mini). So I took back the iPod Shuffle and bought a Samsung Pebble, which mounts like a USB flash drive and plays any 44100 Hz .mp3 or .ogg file I've thrown at it.

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (1)

bagorange (1531625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907861)

Re: your requirement for customisablility at the lowest level; you are in a tiny, tiny minority.Apple does not need your custom.

RE Li-ion battery: it takes a spudger to replace the battery(Well, that may depend on the model). Since you presumably have higher than average technical knowhow that shouldn't hold you back.

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (2, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906699)

Most games would get crucified if they got leaked to the press or the public too early in the dev cycle.

And you know this how?

Id software was great for putting out "Technology previews" which crashed a lot, but sure built sales.

If you produce crap, and people can see its crap, they tend to step around it like a dog-pile on the pavement.

But a good concept demonstrator with wide appeal, even if rough around the edges, will draw customers like flies.

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (1)

Jared555 (874152) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906853)

The difference is when it is leaked and when it is an intentional release there is no way to guarantee the program will even start (depending on what was leaked), plus the fact that half the people viewing the game probably got it as '_________ Leaked Copy!' Not... '_________ Development Alpha Release.... There are probably 1000 things wrong with this but you can try it if you want'.

Calling it Beta or Alpha also doesn't mean much to 90%+ of people, you are lucky if someone has heard the term Beta let alone understand it. They just see 'test out this new game' and somehow miss the 10 paragraphs of warnings it might fry their system.

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28906747)

There is a big difference between video games, movies, music, all "one way" media, and a company that creates products others have to use as a base for other things. Meaning, people need to know what is going on with Apple products because they build business' around using their products as a distribution medium - Mac, iPhone, iTunes, whatever.

People more or less only consume video games, they do not base their companies on being able to work with a video game - I don't think you analogy works in the slightest.

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (4, Insightful)

christoofar (451967) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906755)

Agreed. Apple is no different than game developers justifying its secrecy. This isn't about AAPL's technology. We already know what they use for technology ever since Steve left NeXT and turned AAPL into a BSD Unix shop.

It's all about their marketing arm. Their entire branding is all about total ease of use from every angle from hardware to software and the sleek, elegant design. This is not like MSFT where the entire industry cuts them slack for turning out a totally unfinished, buggy or otherwise complete failure (WindowsME, Vista).

Apple's clique in life has always been young, urban, chic, sexy. Anything that peels away all that makeup and reveals the sausage underneath is seen in Cuptertino as a potential catastrophe to Apple's public image.

Microsoft's culture never painted itself into a corner this way. Bless their hearts, they're still plugging away at the Zune.

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907121)

ever since Steve left NeXT

You're a little fuzzy on your history, there. Does the word "merger" mean anything to you?

-jcr

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (2, Insightful)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907269)

NeXT bought Apple for minus $429 million.

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (1)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 5 years ago | (#28908051)

"Bless their hearts, they're still plugging away at the Zune."

The problem with the Zune is primarily that it has too many competing interests, the same thing that spoils Sony's products these days.

Imagine a product that had to do the following:
1) Compete with an established brand leader (iPod)
2) Start a new proprietary music market, which was different than Microsoft's proprietary old music market (Plays for sure)
3) Make sure it locks down content pretty tightly to appease the record companies
4) Innovate, but please see #3
5) Appeal to a wide audience of regular consumers and techies, but also make sure it's tied tightly to Windows

Microsoft could make the Zune really good with a firmware update, but that will never happen for the same reason that Sony keeps trying to make innovative consumer products that have as it's primary stakeholder their music and film division, not the consumer.

"Apple's clique in life has always been young, urban, chic, sexy"

Actually it hasn't; for much of it's life, Apple's niche was counter-culture, fight the man, this is a new way of doing things. It became the other things because the company changed from a technology driven company to a market driven company. The commercial 1984 was apple's image when the Mac came out.

I can't imagine them creating that commercial today.

Re:sometimes secrecy is necessary (1)

daredd (239007) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907133)

Secrecy and false reveals are a great competitive edge that were successfully used by Intel especially whilst under the control of Andy Grove.

As our governments know, disinformation and information can be 'leaked' as supposed secrets and used to fool the opposition into making mistakes.

The skill is understanding how to manage intellectual property and control the release of so-called secrets that is important. When you can do that you know that you are at the top of your game.
 

I'll be the first (3, Funny)

stms (1132653) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906579)

I'll be the first of the (of course) many people to say I will give my life on the front lines against apples secrecy.

Re:I'll be the first (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907013)

If it's true, as TFA suggests, that the Chinese guy who killed himself for losing an iphone prototype was involved in passing it on to knockoff manufacturers, then no you're not the first.

Obscurity vs security/safety (1, Funny)

WaroDaBeast (1211048) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906631)

Apple are very good at obscuring things instead of securing them. I'm not saying they're the only one who are doing it, but hey, does anyone remember the 8400M/8600M fiasco? Apple said it was a PC issue only, thus not affecting Macs (My ass!). But what tops it all is the use of ads stating Mac user don't need to use antivirus software, resulting in said users spreading viruses when their machine is a "symptom-free carrier."

Bitchslap the young 'un (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28906681)

A Steve Jobs controlled Apple, be it in the 70s-80s or the late 90s-early 00s knows how to "scale secrecy." I'm not giving that article any web impressions. Now stop playin' wid yoself before you go blind and get off my lawn!!

seems kind of stupid (5, Insightful)

tgibbs (83782) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906697)

The article seems kind of stupid. For example, he dismisses the motive of withholding information from competitors who might want to create rush knock-offs on the grounds that "no amount of secrecy will stop it." This is a like arguing that nobody should lock their doors, because houses get burgled anyway, and no amount of locks will stop it. He argues that copying is "a normal part of the business cycle," begging the question of whether it is beneficial to the company that is copied--and ignores the fact that trade secrets are also a normal part of business. He implies that Apple might somehow be culpable in the suicide of an employee, even though there is no evidence whatsoever that Apple drove him to suicide, and the apparent motive (to the extent that anything is known)--failing in one's responsibility--can be and has been a motive for suicide in many contexts that do not necessarily involve secrecy.

Even if there are some valid grounds for criticizing Apple's policies (and it is hard to defend some of their litigious actions), the obvious bias behind such obviously fallacious arguments undermines the case

Re:seems kind of stupid (1)

quercus.aeternam (1174283) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906947)

Agreed - and IMO, almost nothing in the article is specific to Apple. Nothing in the article sways me to believe anything the author states - though both the presented facts and the conclusion may have truth, nothing in A leads me to believe B.

Incidentally, this is coming from someone that in general is aware of their technology, but as far as personal experience goes, they are about as foreign to me as the colemak keymap.

Re:seems kind of stupid (0, Troll)

molnarcs (675885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907249)

I beg to differ - you take one point out of context, exaggerate it, then ridicule the whole article based on your own exaggeration.

Actually, this is a rather well written article, with several points you chose to ignore (including the Google Voice fiasco, treatment of App Store developers, his analysis of the changing trends in the press surrounding Apple plus a dozen more).

I know this is slashdot, and who am I to tell you to RTFA (I don't usually read them myself, I'm more interested in the comments) but in this case it's well worth it. The author doesn't seem to be your usual Apple-basher at all. Not nearly as obviously as parent seems to be an Apple fanboy, dismissing any Apple criticism... "the obvious bias behind such obviously fallacious arguments" ... obviously ;)

Bias? What are you talking about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28908095)

"the obvious bias behind such obviously fallacious "

The core of your argument is this article is *biased*? In what way?

The definition of bias:

    * influence in an unfair way; "you are biasing my choice by telling me yours"
    * a partiality that prevents objective consideration of an issue or situation

Is your argument that the author is wrong? That's an okay argument, I think you are partially correct in that argument, but are you claiming the author has an obvious bias against secrecy? If so, you're making a bizarre argument. It's like saying you're "biased against free speech".

Not Scalability, Marketability (4, Interesting)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906703)

There has been some recent discussion [macrumors.com] on Macrumors about Apple's discontinuation of their video composting software Shake. And several of the posters point out that Apple's "cloud of secrecy" around products and their roadmaps is one of the major contributing factors in people migrating away from Shake. In the consumer space, such secrecy is allowable and even generates hype. But in a business where production software needs to be STABLE, both in the technical and support sense, the idea that "we can't tell you what will happen next" simply doesn't fly.

Re:Not Scalability, Marketability (1)

prockcore (543967) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906885)

People were forced to move away from Shake. Apple killed the Windows version, and the prices for the Linux version are ludicrously out of touch.

Shake is dying because Apple seems to have given up trying to compete with Affer Effects and Combustion.

Re:Not Scalability, Marketability (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28906923)

Apple announced that Shake was end-of-life a couple of years ago. Large users were even given the opportunity to buy a source code license of the last build so they could keep it going in house. However, talk of the replacement (Phenomenon?) product has been pretty quiet of late.

This article misses the point that (4, Interesting)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906729)

Apple's customers are not the same customers as those of other computing companies (a silly, obvious statement, but apparently not so obvious that it doesn't need to be said).

Things that are clear:

Apple is doing very well right now.
Apple is doing very well as a very secretive company.
Apple's current customers, which are the reason it's doing very well, support Apple while it's a very secretive company.

Things that have been the subject of much speculation:

Apple's customers buy in many cases for non-technical reasons.
Apple's customers buy in many cases for social, identity, or personality reasons.

Things that are also clear:

It cannot be ruled out that Apple's secrecy contributes to the loyalty of its customer base, which is not congruent to the customer base of other technology companies.
It cannot be ruled out, therefore, that a reduction in secrecy would alienate some current customers.
It cannot be guaranteed that a reduction in secrecy would gain Apple an equivalent number of new customers.

Synopsis:

If I'm Apple, and I'm having the best few years in a very, very long time for the company, I am not . changing. a . thing .

Re:This article misses the point that (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906847)

> It cannot be guaranteed that a reduction in
> secrecy would gain Apple an equivalent number of
> new customers.

Yes it can be guaranteed.

Its called Advertising. It works.

Please climb down off of your high school debate class pedestal and joint the real world.

Re:This article misses the point that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28907343)

Just as soon as you climb down off your complete incomprehensibility pedestal.

Re:This article misses the point that (4, Insightful)

shmlco (594907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907381)

Right. Name one tech company that gets the same amount of press. Name one tech company whose press events are always packed. Name one tech company whose press events and keynote speeches are ALWAYS liveblogged.

That's advertising too, and it seems to be working.

Re:This article misses the point that (1)

oncehour (744756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907545)

Twitter.

Well, I can think of one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28907681)

Nintendo. But, then, they seem to have a lot in common with Apple, besides a heavy use of white.

Re:This article misses the point that (1)

wakim1618 (579135) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907595)

Another important factor is that the poliferation of blogging and sources of news (facebook? twitter?) means that there is a great deal more noise out there. Secrecy does benefit from secrecy by obscurity within the noise. For example, mac tablet rumors have been around for 4 - 5 years even then there is already a tablet made by a 3rd party. Maybe they will finally come true this year. Or maybe next year. Large organizations have strategic research going on all the time, looking into potential product lines and new lines of business, it can be easy to mistake these sources of 'official' interest for something that may actually materialize into a product.

Secrecy won't protect AAPL forever (2, Informative)

christoofar (451967) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906807)

The day that a blackhat finds a hole on a virgin iPhoneOS image that gets exploited to spread a nasty worm will be the day that millions of AAPL fans will feel sunk and betrayed that Apple didn't coddle and protect them.

For the private domain, that might be the only thing that throws much of Apple's secrecy policy out the window. They would have to in order to save their unblemished reputation.

Either that, or AAPL installs iNortonAV for free on all mobile devices much like what Windows users deal with (an AV client that takes up 2GB of flash and steals 50% of your CPU cycles while it scans for trojans in your 3G packets while taking a call from your grandma)

Re:Secrecy won't protect AAPL forever (1)

younata (1555631) | more than 5 years ago | (#28908385)

Except for the whole "iPhone is unix" thing, that almost makes sense.

You can keep secrets (4, Insightful)

valen (2689) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907139)

  So, this is bullshit. You can keep secrets as long as the people involved think secrecy is warranted.

  Google have an astonishing track record of not leaking projects to the press. They've worked on some incredible stuff, and the vast majority don't get leaked at all, or get leaked accidentally. Huge numbers of internal/infrastructure projects never get told about outside the company. Sure, some projects are pre-announced because by working with outside companies they assume there will be leaks (ChromeOS, Android).

  Internally people get told "Please don't leak unannounced projects. A leak could cause your co-workers to have to launch an unfinished or unpolished project ahead of time, reducing the impact of months or years of their time".

  The problem with Apple is that they work with a lot of outside agents, all of whom can leak without thinking of the personal consequences to friends, just financial/legal ones (which can be avoided). Their own engineers have a pretty good track record of keeping quiet about 'important' things.

Re:You can keep secrets (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28907369)

I think we can all agree that, considering the announcement of the iPhone (which half of APPLE ITSELF didn't know about, internally, until THE DAY Steve showed it on stage), Apple's own engineers have more than a "pretty good" track record of keeping quiet about important things. Relatively, they have a damned incredible track record. The iPhone was clearly a landscape-changer, before and after deployment. Compare this to Microsoft, whose tactic for enhancing their perception as "innovative" is having their own PR branch _preemptively_ announce crap that doesn't - and will _never_ - exist.

Civil War? Really? (1)

johncadengo (940343) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907187)

From TFS,

"If the ethical argument is unpersuasive, then focus on the long-term viability of your marketing and branding efforts, and realize that a technology company that is determined to prevent information from being spread is an organization at war with itself. Civil wars are expensive, have no winners, and incur lots of casualties."

This analogy relies on one assumption: that the natural inclination of people is to be open and vocal.

What if people simply do not care about sharing what the "next big thing" happening at Apple is. What if the only one who really does care is Mr. Steve Jobs himself. Then perhaps the war he is fighting isn't really all that awful. And the employees at Apple may not be at all as interested in their work as the media projects.

Re:Civil War? Really? (2, Insightful)

linhares (1241614) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907339)

What if people simply do not care about sharing what the "next big thing" happening at Apple is.

Then there shouldn't be appleinsider and macrumours and macnn and theunofficialappleweblog and fakestevejobs and all those sites, right?

The art of war... (2, Interesting)

UBfusion (1303959) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907251)

... (by Sun Tzu) is probably the only holy (non-red) book that Jobbs was/is reading everyday before sleep. Secrecy is a fine weapon. Energy efficient and non-violent too.

I will reluctantly counterpoint ancient wisdom with a quote from the former Greek lunatic dictator George Papadopoulos (1967-1974): "Please allow me to worship surprise attacks, and therefore prepare to get surprised".

Don't get fooled by this 'surprise theater', if I may coin the term. Is it really different from the complementary strategy? "Look! We have nothing to hide, we are together in this, there are no secrets, no hidden agendas, let's live together in harmony" (insert romantic Hollywood scenery sequence featuring a transparent beer summit).

Let me digress a bit: I am not fooled by the staged wars between MS and Apple. These two may well amount to the 90% of all tech customers (and developers), in the same sense that Republicans and Democrats represent the 90% of politically active Americans. However, I firmly believe that totalitarianism (100%) is not very different from 50%+40% or even 70%+20%. Some will say that "divide and conquer" is one of the main lessons we get from History, including civil wars. It's a blatant lie, "divide" does not necessarily mean "divide in two".

Let's not forget that it's the third way, the mutated gene, the remaining 10% that makes the difference and provides new perspectives and hopes for a better future. Anyone ignoring the big picture and arguing pro or against Apple's secrecy without taking into account not only Microsoft but also that tiny 10% (many of us would call it Linux, open source and collaborative production paradigms) is no better than those orchestrating the endless (but never purposeless) mainstream media-induced sagas.

Making technological and other life choices involving money in the 21st century means signing contracts with the Devil. So, make sure to read the fine print. Choose your Devil. Sell your soul for a good price. And make sure all rest suffer in Hell worse than you.

Re:The art of war... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28907431)

I see English words that I recognise, but I can't actually understand what this post is saying.

I work at Apple (5, Funny)

Daniel Weis (1209058) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907297)

I work at Apple and I know exactly how scalable our system of secrecy is.

Thing is, I can't tell you about it since it is, itself, a secret. Sorry! :D

The best pat of Apples secrecy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28908063)

is... They don't attempt to push out unfinished products. Foot and mouth disease when you look at AppleTV and the iPhone, but at least they are attempting to turn out working solutions. Biggest problem occurs with unmet expectations on rumors occur frequently. Being an enormous Apple Fan I have bias, but I certainly don't believe in Apples full solution approach. I just wish someone could show a better example.

So true. (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 5 years ago | (#28908449)

Civil wars have no winners. That's why the United States is a British colony.
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