Is Apple’s secrecy becoming a real problem?

“In a recent Businessweek article Jack Clark explains how Apple’s famously secret culture is inhibiting its ability to compete in artificial intelligence,” Greg Satell writes for Forbes. “Simply put, top scientists want to be able to publish openly and be recognized by their peers. At Apple though, they can’t even disclose their positions on social media.”

“Apple is a very special company that has mastered the art of crystallizing imagination in its products in such a way that they are more desirable—and hence more valuable—than anything anyone else can produce,” Satell writes. “The problem for Apple, however, is that there is a lot more imagination in the world than Apple can control by itself.”

“As Leonard Read aptly pointed out in his 1966 essay, I, Pencil, the manufacture of even the simplest modern products is beyond the reach of a single person. Today though, the world has become far more complex and the need to collaborate effectively is even greater,” Satell writes. “Creating an iPhone is largely a problem of engineering and design. A more complex problem like artificial intelligence, however, pushes the boundaries of what’s possible. Not only do you have to attract really smart people, but those people have to work with a wide and diverse group in order for them to be really smart… Nobody, not even a company as special as Apple, can succeed alone.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s modus operandi seems rather sound since, you know, they are the most profitable and most valuable company on the planet.

If anything, instead of merely trying to knockoff Apple’s products and services like automatons, Apple’s outmoded so-called competitors might want to give innovating internally a shot sometime.

Apple’s iPhone can soon reap 100 percent of world’s smartphone profits – November 17, 2015


  1. What secrecy? They’ve started announcing things like Apple Watch, TV, iPad Pro, Pencil, Keyboard Cover so damn early that they can’t meet their own deadlines. Steve Jobs’ solution to this was to announce new products when they can be available on shelves the following Friday? Not “it’ll be released in Early 2015” then rush to get it out literally the very last Friday of what is still considered “early 2015”.

    Apple needs to have MORE secrecy again, that will fix their problems.

    1. Just because you were disappointed with the one off WWDC 2011 with no new iPhone, doesn’t mean their secrecy hasn’t worked in their favor in all other instances. It’s much better to say “we’re doing amazing things right now” than “we will do amazing things at some point in the ‘near’ future”.

  2. The more I read about this “issue” the more I get the sense that Apple has in fact secured the best of the bunch and the competition is afraid of what they are going to come up with. So they are attempting to pressure them to share information early.

    1. It’s a win-win for Apple. On one hand, Apple has the financial resources (beyond any other company and most nations) to hire the best people, to work in Apple’s secret spaceship lab. And on the other hand, if any secrecy-adverse “top scientists” want to openly publish their work, Apple has the same access to that research as anyone else.

      Also, Apple’s strength is in making technology accessible. I have no doubt that Apple will be the company that makes artificial intelligence (and robotics) valuable and desirable to society at large.

      Apple’s secrecy is only a problem to people in the media. 🙂

  3. This article was written by a person with an IQ just into the triple digits. It is impossible for them do imagine how people with IQs can function who are over 50% smarter than the average person. Apple’s smart employees are capable of doing AI all on their own.

  4. What secrecy? We don’t know the details but pretty much anyone who watches Apple can predict with pretty good certainty what they’re going to do. In 2016 there will be bumps to iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, OS X, iOS, and Apple TV. Maybe a Mac bump or 2. They might buy a company here and there but nothing big.

    There will be lots and lots of ridiculous rumors. Nothing particularly revolutionary will surface. They will be drinking around with services. Cook will wander out on stage at some point and tell us how incredible the last year has been and show us pictures of Apple stores. Then he will start his watch presentation and say, “We asked ourselves how we could make Apple Watch even better…”

    Any possible secret will be leaked. Ridiculous ones like Apple Watch 2 being round will keep us entertained for months. What secrecy?

  5. The Myth is that Apple is going it alone. If a company hires the best possible talent in a category, and they all work on the project, it might appear that they are “going it alone” – but in fact, they are collaborating internally.

    1. Totally agree.
      And besides, whatever happened to the philosophy that: Loose Lips Sink Ships !

      Apple researchers should _not_ be talking to anyone outside of Apple about their work. That includes: spouses, former colleagues, university researchers, whatever.

  6. Research employees do on their own time, but while drawing a salary from a company almost invariably belongs to the employer. Discussing that research publicly probably violates their rules of employment and will get them terminated. Apple doesn’t employ researchers to share their expertise with competitors.

    If they prefer to massage their egos and professional credentials, don’t go to work for a company as an employee. Instead, try to negotiate a consultant contract that limits the company’s rights over the research they’re paying them to perform.

    Good luck with that.

  7. “Apple’s outmoded so-called competitors might want to give innovating internally a shot sometime.”

    No kidding! And SO sick of little people telling the most successful company on the planet how to run their business… especially those in the Forbes Walking Dead and Short-order Cook Network.

    1. You might have to take off the Apple colored glasses for a moment to see. There are interesting things going on outside of Apple. The most successful company on the face of the planet has more to lose than everyone else, and when you’re number 1 there’s nowhere to go but down. I’m seeing evidence of vision from places as boring as Microsoft while I’m seeing routine and repeated mistakes from Apple. Microsoft’s Windows 10 everywhere is rather seductive when compared to the OS X vs. iOS world of Apple. Blasphemy I know but it’s kinda slick when you see someone arrive at work, take their phone out of their pocket and connect it to a 27 inch monitor and it becomes their desktop PC.

      1. “There are interesting things going on outside of Apple.”

        True. No-one, I think, is saying or implying there is NOTHING. But…

        – You have seen the before and after photos of phones and tablets. EVERYTHING looks like a slight variant on the iPhone and iPad.

        – And if you add up all those companies, the percentage of innovation coming out of all of both industries (mobile and computer) is pathetic compared to the one company – Apple.

  8. Is Apple’s secrecy becoming a real problem?

    NO. But leaking Apple information before it’s ready for prime time IS a real problem. Steve Jobs got it right. I liked it that way, as did Apple.

    Of course, when Apple is manufacturing inside a country like China, stealing and selling is a way of life. I can’t imagine there’s a viable way to stop such leaks while working with such countries. Apple suffers for it.

    Move all Apple manufacturing to the USA? Would that reestablish Apple’s required secrecy? I think so. The rumor and leak mongers can go get stuffed.

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