All the Ways Apple Keeps Secrets (That We Know Of)

A series of securities measures ensures nobody blabs about the latest iProduct

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To feed the fan fire, Apple keeps its new devices shrouded in secrecy until launch day. As the iPhone 5 release date approaches, a lot has been said about the latest iGadget, but not much has been confirmed. And Apple likes it like that. While its had its slip-ups, Apple is pretty good at keeping those privy to its latest device muzzled, requiring a series of involved security procedures for those who get to test the device pre-launch. A few executives and developers who went through Apple's absurd security precautions and lived to tell exactly how Apple keeps its new products under wraps. It's intense.

For outsiders who see the product pre-launch: 

  • Few non-Apple eyes see the product before launch. "First off, Apple would only allow a select few from this executive's company to know the company was in possession of an iPad--not even the company's CEO knew," an executive who saw the device told Fast Company's Austin Carr. 
  • Apple takes social security numbers and vows of secrecy. "I wasn't allowed to tell our CEO. I wasn't allowed to tell anybody anything about what we were doing. I couldn't even tell my wife," a developer told Business Insider's Noah Davis. 
  • Viewings happen in dark, locked rooms. "Apple required the device be kept in a window-less or blacked-out room, which had to be fitted with a new lock that only two keys could open. Apple held on to one key; the executive to the other," continues Carr. 
  • The iWhatever travels in a private jet
  • It arrives ugly. "Once it arrived, even the revealed product was encased in a clunky outer shell--the company exec describes it to me as a "black plastic" case, which made it moot to snap any photos of the device," continues Carr.
  • Once revealed, it gets shackled with bike cables to a desk, which is padlocked to the room. "Apple needed to be able to drill a hole in the desk and chain the devices to desk. They used those bicycle cables," continues the developer to Davis. "What's more, Apple also padlocked the case to a desk within the room," adds Carr. 
  • Then Apple takes photo evidence, in case of a leak.  "Apple then took pictures of the device padlocked to the desk, making sure to capture the table's wood grain," continues Carr. "That way if any pictures did leak, Apple could trace the images back to the particular desk and wood grain they were taken on, and thus trace the leaks to the company in its possession."

For Apple employees working on super-secret products:

  • High security cubes. "Employees working on top-secret projects must pass through a maze of security doors, swiping their badges again and again and finally entering a numeric code to reach their offices, according to one former employee who worked in such areas," explain The New York Times's Ashley Stone and Brad Vance. Work spaces also have cameras and Apple workers sometimes have to shroud devices with black cloaks when working on them. 
  • Apple lies to its own people. "Apple routinely 'jams the frequencies,' or gives them misinformation to throw them off the scent of a new product or other news it hopes to keep confidential." Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray who has covered Apple for the last five years told Stone and Vance. 
  • Employee crackdowns. If leaks do get out, Apple "routinely" finds and fires leakers, continued Munster. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.