Apple is notoriously secretive. It rarely shares information ahead of product releases, it restricts employee access to its research labs, and once, it even required designers who were working on the iPad to keep the devices chained to their desks.
In some ways, that's understandable. The company has certainly seen its share of leaked information, as when an employee left an iPhone 4 in a bar in Redwood City, and it made headlines around the world. There's also the fact that rumors about upcoming products are published regularly.
Former design guru Jony Ive--who left the company last year--once explained the secrecy in an interview with Vogue's Editor in Chief, saying "I've been doing this for long enough where I actually feel a responsibility to not confuse or add more noise about what's being worked on because I know that sometimes it does not work out. And so, I think it's just in our nature."
Which means the company finds itself in an interesting position right now with the publication of App Store Confidential, a book by a former employee named Tom Sadowski, who ran Apple's App Store in Germany. While it's one thing to take steps to keep information from leaking, it's another to try to stop the publication of a book because you're not sure you'll like what it says.
The problem is Apple also has positioned itself as a champion of free expression. In fact, in a statement, the company said that it has "long supported a free press and supports authors of all kinds." Still, the company's executives are not pleased with Sadowski's book. More specifically, the company believes Sadowski has violated his employment agreements, which led to his termination.
There's a good reason to ask employees who have access to proprietary information about your business to keep what they know from public disclosure. Apple certainly has a right to enforce those agreements and keep its trade secrets.
At the same time, it might be worth asking yourself whether any supposed confidential information is worth a public fight. If a former employee at your company is going public, and you're worried, it's worth considering two things in Apple's case.
The first is that until publications started reporting on Apple's complaints, almost no one was going know about Sadowski's book, let alone read it. It isn't even published outside of Germany.
The other is that it's highly unlikely any book is going to reveal information that will put Apple's App Store at any kind of risk. It's the only way to download apps on the more than 1.5 billion iOS devices in the wild. I think Apple's going to be OK.
In fact, EN24, a publication that reviewed a copy of the book, says most of what it contains is harmless. "It is conceivable that Apple is bothered by passages in which the author reports, for example, feedback from the company's headquarters. However, these also seem to us more obvious and, above all, without real details; and less as a trade secret."
In fact, that article went on to point out that "Sadowski is more likely to benefit from Apple's threat in the sales of his book." Come on, Apple. Maybe let this one slide?