With its strict secrecy policies, Apple manages to maintain an air of mystery around works in progress, despite occasional internal leaks that spill upcoming product details to the public.
Apple even imposes its culture of secrecy on employee's spouses and homes, according to the wife of one such employee.
Quora user Kim Scheinberg, her husband a former manager and director at Apple, recently posted a story dishing about a project her husband was working on in 2001. According to her recollection, an upper manager told her to "forget everything" she knew about one of her husband's assignments that was placed on the company's high-security list.
Scheinberg wrote that, at the time, her husband (John Kullman) was working on independent projects from their home in California. When his boss, Joe Sokol, asked him to present some of his work, Kullman showed off a few PCs he'd hacked to run Apple's Mac OS software.
Kullmam was then asked if he could also run Apple's software on a Sony Vaio notebook. He succeeded in a matter of hours, Scheinberg recalled. "The next morning, Steve Jobs [was] on a plane to Japan to meet with the President of Sony," she wrote.
Meanwhile, Bertrand Serlet, later known as the "Father of Mac OS X," told Kullman that he couldn't tell anyone about what he'd been working on. But Scheinberg already knew.
[My husband] points out to Bertrand that I know about the project. In fact, not only do I know about it, I am the person who named it. Bertrand tells [him] that I am to forget everything I know, and he will not be allowed to speak to me about it again until it is publicly announced.
I guess he had some kind of 'Total Recall' memory wipe in mind.
She also explained in her post that their house was "reconfigured to meet Apple security standards," further limiting possible leaks of top-secret information, though she did not elaborate on what exact measures were taken. (Scheinberg did not respond to a request for comments.)
One Apple inventory specialist wrote that the "need for secrecy sometimes means doing work twice when changes happen in schedule or releases." Another employee who works as an engineering product manager in Cupertino griped that "the need for secrecy makes for special challenges in trying to coordinate cross-functionally."
The company is poised to become even more protective of its unreleased products, if CEO Tim Cook succeeds in his mission to make Apple "double down on secrecy," as he said during an interview at the D10 conference in May.