Setting Standards: Secrecy

When Steve returned to Apple, one of the values he demanded was absolute secrecy. It was drummed into new employees from the very first—incorporated in a very specific confidentiality agreement they had to sign, and stressed very strongly in the new-employee training. By then he had come to the vision of creating products with design and technology far ahead of what anybody else was doing. He understood very clearly that he couldn’t jump the gun on other companies if Apple people in the know were even just a little careless about mentioning a detail here and a detail there. In an environment like that, your competition may turn out to be only a step behind in bringing out an imitation product that includes some of the best features of your latest hot new thing.

In addition, by that time he was convinced that you didn’t ship great products by announcing a release date well in advance and then having to stick to it. You created great products by continuing to refine them until you were satisfied that every aspect—every aspect—had been honed to the point of meeting the very highest standards.

That’s why Apple doesn’t announce products months in advance.

There is a powerful side benefit of this strategy: the technology press and bloggers worldwide generate a great buzz with their guesses about what the next product or product upgrade will be—building greater and greater anticipation and millions of dollars’ worth of free publicity until the launch date finally ...

Get Leading Apple With Steve Jobs: Management Lessons From a Controversial Genius now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.