Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

The Back Page: Keep it secret, keep it safe

Tim Cook
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Team,

At Apple, our values are strong. We care about the environment, we look out for workers across our supply chain, and we pride ourselves on creating a welcoming, inclusive space for everybody.

But above all, we keep our mouths shut.

It’s come to my attention in recent days that this core value of secrecy has not been taken seriously by some amongst us. Not only have we seen leaked product information, but internal communications have found their way into the press—even our internal communications about not leaking our internal communications. Honestly, it’s made me reconsider our commitment to basic reading comprehension.

That’s why I’m pleased to report that we’ll be quintupling down on secrecy at Apple. That commitment will start at the very top: I know in the past, I’ve been viewed as a bit of a chatterbox CEO, always sharing the details of my personal life in the press, but that stops now. No longer will I grant splashy interviews, or talk about my commitment to augmented reality. I will become a man of mystery, unknown to any and all. The next time we meet, we may not even recognize each other. Perhaps I will even dye my hair and grow a beard—who can say?

Leading this secrecy charge is a full time job, and so I’m pleased to announce that we’ve hired a new chief of secrecy here at Apple. Unfortunately, that’s all I can tell you. Due to our new measures, I cannot tell you who they are, where their office is, or anything about their background. Look to the right of you. Look to the left of you. One of those people could be our new chief of secrecy. Or not. There’s no way to know.

New measures are also be taken in our product development processes:

  • Starting immediately, our projects will all be shrouded in veils of the utmost of secrecy. All hardware units will be assigned random code names that are rotated on a daily basis. These code names, while used in writing, are never to be uttered aloud: instead, each project will also be assigned a series of facial expressions to be used when describing them in a conversation. (At the risk of violating our new secrecy precepts, I must say, I’m particularly intrigued by waggle-eyebrows/nose-twitch/blink-three-times. It’s the most exciting thing we’ve done in years.)
  • In order to prevent people from peeking at our codebases and gleaning details of upcoming releases, all framework names will be replaced with a series of randomized characters.

  • To curb the leaks of information about our upcoming pipeline, all future product decisions will be decided by our latest addition: the Wheel of Innovation. This device consists of two concentric wheels, which, when spun, set the direction of our next product. For example, if I spin the wheel now….the outside ring reads “augmented” and the inside wheel says “sponge”. Resources are already being put behind this exciting new project, code-named “Sesquipedalian Hammerfest.” At least for today. Left-eyebrow lift/right-eye wink/pucker. All hail the Wheel of Innovation!

I also regret to report that this is the final company-wide missive I will ever send. From here on out, individual personalized memos will be drafted to each and every employee at Apple, ensuring that any leaks to the press will be quickly sniffed out. Moreover, each of those messages will be written using a carefully constructed code designed to obfuscate the true contents, along with an encrypted signature. This will ensure that even should a memo leak to the press, no usable information will be provided. Managers will be given personalized code books which will be secured to their iPhones via MagSafe at all times. Please provide any salient personal details to HR for the “niceties” portion of the messages, so that we can ask after your partner, children, and/or pets.

I know that we can all come together in the face of this new adverse threat and put security at the paramount of our considerations. No matter what your job here at Apple, from retail employee to senior vice president of services, we should all be guided by the same principle: how can I can keep this secret from absolutely everybody—perhaps even myself?

It’s been a pleasure communicating with you. I can’t wait to see how you enjoy our new augmented sponge.

Sincerely,
Gvz Pbbx

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at dan@sixcolors.com. The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]


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