Hugh Pickens writes: "Brad Stone and Ashlee Vance write in the NY Times that secrecy at Apple is not just the prevailing communications strategy; it is baked into the corporate culture — a culture of secrecy that had its origin in the release of the first Macintosh. "It really started around trying to keep the surprise aspect to product launches, which can have a lot of power," says marketing veteran Regis McKenna who advised Apple in its early days. Today few companies are more secretive than Apple, or as punitive to those who dare violate the company's rules on keeping tight control over information. Employees have been fired for leaking news tidbits to outsiders, and the company has been known to spread disinformation about product plans to its own workers and sue bloggers who cover the company. "They make everyone super, super paranoid about security," says former employee Mark Hamblin, who worked on the touch-screen technology for the iPhone. "I have never seen anything else like it at another company." Apple's decision to severely limit communication with the news media, shareholders and the public is at odds with the approach taken by many other companies, and many experts agree that the secrecy that adds surprise and excitement to Apple product announcements is not serving the company well in corporate governance where some say that recent reports that Steve Jobs may have had a liver transplant, still not confirmed by the company, now makes one of Apple's assertions from January — that Jobs was suffering only from a hormonal imbalance — seem like a deliberate mistruth. "In the interests of transparency, I think it would be necessary for them to disclose something as serious as a liver transplant," says Charles Elson, director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware. "Investors want to know if he's healthy and if he can continue to run the company.""
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