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Too many secrets: Three ways Apple could loosen up

Abbi Perets | March 6, 2013
Apple's famous for keeping secrets, but there are some cases where its closed-mouth nature may not be doing it any favors.

I've been mainlining Downton Abbey for the last few days, and one line in particular struck a chord: that moment when the Lady Grantham and the Dowager Countess lament "Is there anything worse than losing your lady's maid?"

In fact, yes, there is something much, much worse: It's when you buy a new iPhone on launch day and, thanks to its new form factor, you can't get a decent case for it--or connect it to any of your old accessories. As I tell my children daily, life is rough.--

Sure, this is probably at the top of the first-world problems list, but it's just one example of something where Apple could shed its much vaunted secrecy in favor of a little more openness that might well help improve its customers' lives.

Lighting in a bottled up, top-secret container

In the weeks leading up to the launch of the iPhone 5, rumors were everywhere about the form factor changes and, in particular, the replacement for the dock connector. But many vendors--like consumers--didn't have a chance to see the new connector in person until launch day.

That meant that vendors couldn't update their docks and other accessories ahead of the launch. So they rushed to implement those changes, racing to get their products to market without, in some cases without adequate testing. The end result? Consumers suffered--in a "losing your lady's maid" way, of course--from a less than optimal out-of-the-box experience. And that disappointment undermines the excitement that surrounds an Apple launch.r"

Clearly there were at least a handful of vendors who were privy to Apple's closely held secret, because there were a few cases available for the iPhone 5 around its launch date. But choices (and stock) were extremely limited for several weeks.

Likewise, while a few apps here and there had been optimized to take advantage of the new, larger screen, the overwhelming majority of developers had to head back to the digital drawing board--or instead suffer the indignity of black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.

Scoff all you want--my Android-loving brother-in-law did. We all want to have our cool new phone, but it can be nerve-wracking to have to take it outside unprotected, or frustrating to not be able to charge it in your car because Apple kept changes under wraps instead of giving vendors a bit more of a heads up.

iWork in secret

That said, you can make an argument for not releasing information outside the company prior to a device launch (especially Apple, which so often has to play the expectations game). But why keep your own employees in the dark?


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