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Apple: Censor or Noble Protector of Corporate Secrets?

This story I'm about to tell makes me sweat, brings chills to my spine and has me madder than a flea on a freshly shaven poodle. You see, I spent well over a decade breaking news, which meant I told things well before IBM, Microsoft or Lotus wanted me to. I never heard one complaint -- and this is after my stories moved market caps by hundreds of millions and, in one case, over a billion dollars.

If I'd been covering Apple, I may have had a less pleasant experience. Apple, for all its touchy-feely, hippy-dippy, Volvo-driving, fancy-wine-drinking image, has a view of freedom of speech and personal privacy that would make Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proud.

Here are three examples. I recently spent time -- way too much time -- at an Apple retailer. They call the sales reps Apple Geniuses, but after one guy told me it would cost $500 to replace a DC-inboard that I know costs $50, I changed the name to Apple Imbeciles. Then it took five phone calls to actually get them to a ship a replacement for a battery that could possibly catch on fire. And I soon learned that none of these Apple Imbeciles gave out their phone numbers, so reaching someone required all of my social-engineering skills.

While at the Apple store, I casually asked what kind of machines were expected at the Macworld show this January. The imbecile told me that Apple would fire anyone that discussed future products.

I must be mad; I've wasted 244 words complaining without getting to the real point.

Point No. 2 is that Apple sued and recently settled with a college kid who owned a Web site that had the audacity to talk about unannounced products. Under the settlement, thinksecret.com will "retire." As a journalist, I'm appalled -- and now more appreciative of Microsoft's more mature attitude.

Next I found out (thanks to Tom's Hardware) that Apple has shut down a thread discussing problems with its 20- and 24-inch iMacs. If you post a complaint, all forum visitors see is an error message.

But Apple backers counter that the thread is still open (an old version is), and that only true flames were deleted. In fact, I found a thread focusing on iMac display problems, so perhaps Tom's is being a bit rough on Apple.

Posted by Doug Barney on January 07, 2008 at 11:52 AM


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