September 15, 2012

On Secrecy

“Every credible rumor was true.”

I thought about writing a review of Wednesday’s Apple iPhone 5 event with just this one sentence.

My editors, however, thought I should work a little harder to earn my keep.

Imagine that.

For those who have been closely following this year’s rumor cycle, this sentence is the most succinct way to describe the latest iPhone. Those who have already seen the leaked images, became upset about the passing of the 30-pin connector, and got excited about the possibility of NFC (only to have their hopes crushed a day later with a single “yep”) were already quite familiar with what is now called the iPhone 5.

(As a sidebar, I also found it very interesting how many of my non-tech friends approached me in recent weeks asking me about these rumors. It’s finally happened, the iPhone rumor mill has gone mainstream.)

Sure, there were a few wild cards floating about, like the name of the thing. iPhone 5? Next iPhone? Oh, and how we were split on this issue!

There were some predicting a quad-core processor (though no real persuading rumors ever surfaced to this effect) and…well, that’s about it, isn’t it?

One smaller rumor left to be confirmed is how much RAM is in this thing, but we won’t know that until the iFixit team put the device under the knife for all curious parties to watch. By my predictions, this little spectacle will take place early next Friday, assuming they fly a small team to Australia to be one of the first IN THE WORLD to pick up this new phone.

No, in looking at all the iPhone rumor roundups in the days leading up to Wednesday’s announcement, it seems the only surprises Apple threw our way was the bit about the crystal sapphire lens fronting the camera.

In preparing for the announcement, fellow redOrbiter Lee Rannals and I were discussing what we thought we’d see during the announcement. We expected 4G LTE, we expected in-cell technology, that new form factor and an improved processor, of course, but I found myself repeating the same sentiment: “I just want to be surprised.”

I even mentioned so much in my iPhone 5 wish list from last week.

I was holding on to hope that all of these leaks, these images we had seen over and over and over again were an elaborate ploy on Apple’s part to show us, to really show us who’s in charge of the Apple news around here. It felt so…wrong to know so much about a product from a company who once shut down an Apple blog for speculating on future products.

I’ve said it a million times: Half the fun of waiting for an iPhone launch has always been not knowing what the next phone would look like, and while we speculated in recent months, it became increasingly clear that there would be no surprises this year. Apple would, instead, just release the best phone they knew how, surprises be damned, our fun be damned.

That surprise, that initial “wow” factor has been huge for Apple before, getting many to make snap judgements on whether or not they’d be upgrading. It’s one of the reasons why opening weekend iPhone sales have continually increased year over year.

But does Apple need to surprise us anymore?

Have they already got us “in the bag,” so to speak? It’s a bold claim, one that I, for one, am not prepared to make. But I do think that, for whatever reason, Apple has shifted their attention to making the best products they know how rather than spend their time worrying about if we see them before the big announcement.

This isn’t to say that Apple is going to open the floodgates and install glass walls in their design studios and labs, of course.

But perhaps the team at Apple now sees the secrecy game as something that isn’t worth their time or effort. After all, being able to have intense focus on their products and their next step has been a long-standing characteristic at Cupertino, and maybe, just maybe, fighting to protect the secrecy of these devices before launch isn’t worth the investment anymore.

The rumor game is ours to play. Apple doesn’t want a part, they just want to produce the best products.

That we continue playing the game only means that we’re so intrigued by a company who refuses to play by everyone else’s rules.

Image Credit: Mopic /Shutterstock

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