The "Apple Gestapo" may be ruthless about hunting down leaks, but they don't shake down every employee with access to sensitive information. As one former Apple Marketing Manager describes, some employees are instructed to engage in "controlled leaks."
According to John Martellaro, the former exec, the Wall Street Journal's recent scoop on the Apple tablet was a perfect example. He goes on to describe the process:
The way it works is that a senior exec will come in and say, "We need to release this specific information. John, do you have a trusted friend at a major outlet? If so, call him/her and have a conversation. Idly mention this information and suggest that if it were published, that would be nice. No e-mails!"
The communication is always done in person or on the phone. Never via e-mail. That's so that if there's ever any dispute about what transpired, there's no paper trail to contradict either party's version of the story. Both sides can maintain plausible deniability and simply claim a misunderstanding. That protects Apple and the publication.
In the case of yesterday's story, Walt Mossberg was bypassed so that Mr. Mossberg would remain above the fray, above reproach. Also, two journalists at the WSJ were involved. That way, each one could point the finger at the other and claim, "I thought he told me to run with this story! Sorry."
Finally, the story was posted online late Monday, eastern time, so no one could ever suggest there was any attempt to manipulate the stock market.
Martellaro claims that leaking information is not about inflating stock prices, although you won't hear anyone complain when that happens. Generally, there is a specific goal like gauging public reaction, throwing off competitors, manipulating partners and the like. In the end, Apple comes off clean—maintaining its reputation for never talking about unreleased products. The reality is that they are all about it, as long as its officially unofficial information. Of course, this tactic probably par for the course for most major companies. [The Mac Observer]