Apple is renowned for keeping a tight lid on the products that it has in its development pipeline. This has been a mainstay of its product strategy even before Tim Cook became the leader at Apple.
Apple has a whole slew of tools available for protecting its product secrecy. It not only sets up stringent non disclosure agreements with its vendors and suppliers but also sets up contractual obligations with all new hires.
A few of the NDA’s that it signs with its vendors were made available during the wikileaks incidents for SONY and crackle a few years back.
If you are wondering how the company can manage the product secrecy process, you can get a glance of some of the inner workings via a recent job posting for its Legal department for a Lead Hardware Secrecy Specialist in Dec 2016.
A product in development has to go through multiple internal stakeholders that are involved in the product engineering.
Whether it’s the new product initiative team or the testing team or the lab, someone in the company will need to track the product through all the step gates and account for it in order to sustain the renowned discretion that is a hallmark of Apple development.
It appears from this Dec job ad, that the actual stewarts that manage this process at Apple are the legal department folks. They routinely track and distribute the most confidential prototypes across different departments at Apple.
As a Lead Hardware Secrecy specialist, this position is responsible for making sure that prototypes make it safely into engineers’ hands.
The position is also the key point of contact between the Factory and other engineering departments in that they receive the secure shipments directly from factories and update Apple’s global tracking database.
As the product in development moves from one department/stakeholder to the other, this legal department specialist is responsible for updating the tracking sheet across the product development lifecycle.
These folks at Apple are also responsible for collecting old hardware that are earmarked for secure destruction.
Interestingly, the lead hardware secrecy specialist’s typical day involves :
“ In a typical day you will: supervise daily operations and serve as a point of escalation for your teammates, follow up with cross-functional partners to escalate and resolve key issues, and be assigned short-term or ongoing projects to improve the services we provide to the engineering community. When a new product is publicly announced, you will celebrate the success with the project team, knowing your hard work allowed us to surprise and delight our customers. “
Maintaining Product secrecy at tech companies is a key process in these firms that are constantly trying to innovate and deliver new products before their competitors do.
Product secrecy as a strategy is just not limited to established companies such as Apple but also has become popular in established start-ups such as Snapchat.You can get a sense of how things work at Snapchat by following this article from business insider.
After all, it was Andy Warhol who once said “The idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting.”