By Dan Moren
September 11, 2017 7:20 AM PT
Does the iOS 11 firmware leak ruin Apple’s big day?
Apple’s going to have to remove its chief weapon of “surprise” from its arsenal. Friday night saw the leak of the Golden Master version—which is to say what, in ordinary circumstances, would be the final shipping revision—of iOS 11. MacRumors and 9to5Mac were both able to download and install the software, and pretty much all of Apple’s plans for the mobile OS have been laid bare. You can go read all about them there or on developer Steve Troughton-Smith’s Twitter feed—I’m not going to rehash them.
Earlier this year it seemed like whatever Apple had been doing to put an end to leaks had gone pretty well, but with this news following on the heels of leaked HomePod firmware last month, it seems like any attempt Tim Cook once made to double down on secrecy hasn’t really paid off.
The bigger question is: does it matter?
To Apple? I’m sure it upsets the company and its executive team. It certainly steals their thunder for tomorrow’s event. But for all of that, the long-term detriment is low. The majority of people who have read the leaks are probably still going to watch the event anyway; the mainstream media and average potential Apple consumer, well, they probably haven’t even heard about the leak—nor would they necessarily care if they had.
But Apple isn’t in it for the eyeballs: it’s in it for the cold hard cash of selling its products. It’s hard to fathom how a leak could affect that at this point: everybody was going to find out about these features in a few days anyway, at which point they’d be making the same decision about what to buy. (And, of course, there are still lingering questions, like price points.)
I’m sure there are plenty of Apple engineers and other personnel who’ve worked really hard on the final products, and for them, yes, I can understand some disappointment that this didn’t come out in the manner it was intended to. But their products are more than just the hour spent introducing them—it’s about people using them every day for years to come. The tail here is pretty long.
From a purely entertainment standpoint, I can express a little bit of disappointment. I like watching Apple events, if only because it’s one of the few times in this job that there’s still an opportunity for surprise and delight. But no, it’s not quite like having the season finale of Game of Thrones spoiled for me—there, the telling of the story is all there is. Here, there’s plenty left once we get the full story about the products and then, again, when we actually get our hands on them.
So, no, these leaks aren’t the end—they’re just the beginning.
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