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Apple Inc. Wants to Stop iPhone 6 Leaks

Shortly after Tim Cook took on his role as Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) CEO, he asserted that secrecy would still be a priority at the company. In fact, at the AllThingsD conference (now the Code Conference) two years ago, Cook told Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher that he was going to take secrecy to a whole new level: "We're going to double down on secrecy on products. I'm serious."

Nevertheless, product leaks have persisted. Sure, the company has kept its policy to not speak about future product plans; the most detailed comment we've heard from Apple management is that it is working on products in new categories. But Apple simply can't keep a lid on its sprawling global supply chain.

Continued leaks have prompted Apple to fortify its efforts to stop leaks at suppliers. Will it work?

iPhone 6 rumors
For the most part, the Apple rumor mill is in consensus about the major details surrounding the form factor of Apple's iPhone 6. Leaks have suggested the company is working on 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch versions of the iPhone, with the 4.7-inch model to be released this fall and the larger iPhone to follow a few months later. MacRumors summarizes the rest of the major rumors, saying that the iPhone 6 will sport an improved A8 processor, a better camera, and new backlighting technology.

Just this week another leak provided the most convincing evidence that the iPhone 6 is, as rumors have suggested, taking on rounded corners like the iPod Touch, iPad Mini, and iPad Air. The leak of an alleged back cover of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 fits the descriptions of the iPhone 6 that have surfaced in the Apple rumor mill. The photo comes from Macfixit Australia. The company says its source is a "contact in China."

These accurate descriptions of form factors are the foundation of realistic mock-ups and serve as a starting point for accessory makers and imitators.

MacRumors renderings by Ferry Passchier of the potential 4.7-inch and 5.7-inch sixth-generation iPhone lineup. Photo used with permission.

New efforts to stop leaks?
While its may be enjoyable for some Apple investors to follow product leaks, secrecy is undoubtedly the most shareholder-friendly route for Apple. As a product company that thrives by innovating in ways other electronics manufactures have not, keeping its designs secret as long as possible can give Apple strategic advantages over competitors, giving them less time to imitate designs.

But getting suppliers to tone down leaks isn't easy, as is clear by examining the detailed description of the iPhone 6 form factor making rounds in the Apple rumor mill. Even supplier alleged schematics of the phone's dimensions have leaked.

To help address continued leaks, Apple has reportedly hired about 200 security officers to try to catch those who are selling iPhone 6 accessories, according to a tweet on Friday from Sonny Dickson (via MacRumors), a frequent source of Apple hardware rumors.

Given the scale of Apple's business, such an expense makes sense -- that is, if it works. Can Apple really crack down on overseas product leaks? Or has Apple's supply chain simply hit a size that hardware leaks are basically inevitable?

Even if leaks accurate enough for accessory makers to begin early production are inevitable, investors should hope Apple continues its efforts in keeping future product plans as secret as possible -- backing off could encourage even more rampant leaks.

Apple's next big product?
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million of this type of device will be sold per year. But one small company makes Apple's gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here!

Read/Post Comments (7) | Recommend This Article (9)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On May 31, 2014, at 3:02 PM, makelvin wrote:

    Apple can continue to try to catch those people that leaks iPhone parts; but it is going to be difficult because its contract manufacturer like Foxconn has enough employees that exceeds the size of many large cities in the US.

    Another thing Apple can do is to intentionally introduce false leaks of parts to confuse and obfuscate the actual leaks so that it makes it difficult for people to be able to tell which leaks are real and which are fakes. Say for instance, the picture shown in the article provided by MacRumors looks like it could be the real iPhone 6; but if you look at it closely at the back where the LED flash is, it seems a bit odd. This is because since iPhone 5S, Apple introduced a dual-tone LED flash technology to correct different lighting situations for taking pictures in different lighting environment. The picture is shown only a single LED instead of two LEDs. Did Apple decided they no longer want to use that technology or was Apple able to produce a custom LED that can produce multiple colors within a single LED or was the picture rendered based on false information?

    Frankly, I hope this photo does not accurately represent the new iPhone's look. This design does not look quite as elegant as the iPhone 5 or iPhone 4's designs. The clean chamfered edges of the iPhone 5 or the chrome edges with two glass surfaces of the iPhone 4 made those devices look more like a jewelries or a work of art that a phone. With this new look on the photo, it looks more like a conventional smartphone similar to one that could designed by Samsung at el. It definitely looks cheaper, lower class and lost a lot of the elegance from its earlier designs.

  • Report this Comment On May 31, 2014, at 4:44 PM, RussellL wrote:

    Maybe if Apple would treat their employees and suppliers with more respect they wouldn't have this problem.

  • Report this Comment On May 31, 2014, at 5:11 PM, DukeMontrose wrote:

    As a former Brit CounterIntel officer I trust guarding of secrets do involve sting ops + other offensive moves.

    The "others" are not for publication.

  • Report this Comment On May 31, 2014, at 11:31 PM, skippywonder wrote:

    @makelven, I was thinking the same thing about the design. It did look generic and the flash was wrong. The renderings of hypothetical iPhones in the past have never quite had the umph factor to them either. The real thing will look beautiful or Apple has gone blind.

    I thought releasing bad info would be clever too. They could release a sellable lie, throw others off the scent, and release the real product to more fanfare and surprise. Except if any leaks from the actual product occur, you've added a lot of work for not much. And Tim Cook does not seem Machiavellian enough. He seems like he'd simply want to stop the leaks and not have to worry about all the nonsense.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 8:12 AM, Kvfertig wrote:

    So nobody noticed that they leaked that Apple is buying security officers to STOP leaks. Either GG Apple or GG

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 7:16 PM, aardman wrote:

    The way to address leaks is not to try to stop them. Instead use diversion, misdirection, and misinformation. Muddle the view with spurious product information. i.e. employ the "I am Spartacus" tactic.

  • Report this Comment On June 02, 2014, at 3:19 AM, bbmcc wrote:

    Thought they already did use misinformation to try to confuse people before a big release. Also has the effect of reminding people that there's a new product coming. All part of the marketing mix.

    Also has the side effect of persuading potential Samsung Galaxy buyers that maybe they should wait a little longer until there's that new shiny iPhone to try in their local Apple store before getting their wallet out...

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Daniel Sparks

Daniel is a senior technology specialist at The Motley Fool. To get the inside scoop on his coverage of technology companies, follow him on Twitter.

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