Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Flooding the rumor mill

In a recent TIMN podcast, Joshua Topolsky stated that he had no idea what the next iPhone would look like because there are so many rumors about the device. This got me thinking, what if that was Apple's strategy all along. And, if not, should it be?

Apple plays things close to the vest. Inevitably, however, plans leak out or a prototype gets left behind in a bar. Apple fights vehemently to dispel the rumors and to recover lost devices. What if they took a different approach? Instead of secrecy and tight lips, what if there was a steady stream of rumors coming from the company - through unofficial sources, not PR - and seed fake devices were intentionally left in bars, airports, etc.?

Employees could be randomly assigned rumors or tidbits of fake plans then encouraged to "leak" them to tipsters at technology blogs and other websites, spread among friends outside the company, etc. Likewise, Apple could create 10-20 fake iDevices, ranging from incremental updates to flat-out ridiculous concepts. Then task employees with "accidentally" leaving them behind. One key would be to include Foxconn, or at least the impression of Foxconn, as one of the sources of leaking information and/or devices. It would probably be good to include a case or accessory partner in the shenanigans as well, since that's a common source of industrial design leaks.

Eventually, there would be so much misinformation in the tech press that one wouldn't be able to discern a true leak from the noise.

I know what you're thinking. This would be impractical and improbable. But wouldn't it be fun?


[Update:  Either Topolsky reads my blog (unlikely) or we're on the exact same page.  On this week's podcast he alluded to this exact same strategy.]


  1. It's an interesting strategy, but one that is unlikely to work most of the time. With most companies, people just wouldn't care about the leaks or "leaks" enough to make a difference either way.

    For Apple, the rumor-generation machine functions perfectly well without their involvement in the process, with an amazing number of people busy mocking up all kinds of things.

  2. Anonymous4:16 AM

    I saw that Ryan Block from gdgt thought the same thing - that Apple is sowing some false leads. If so, I think they should've spread false rumours that were less exciting than what they actually announced.