Way back in 1984, a still very young Apple computer created a television commercial that would stun the world. The black and white image was of a crowd of people, emotionless drones filing into a large, dark auditorium. At front, a giant screen flickered an image of Big Brother -- a mindless dictator who controlled everything, every person, every thought and every movement. Then, out of the dark fog, a woman stands up. Wielding a sledge hammer, she hurls the tool into the giant screen, smashing Big Brother and his control over others, into a million pieces, thus releasing all humanity from their bonds.
In Apple's eyes, the IBM PC exemplified Big Brother -- a mindless beige box for the masses, meant for every computer user to use and follow blindly. Apple had every intent of allowing people to be self expressive, free to think, feel, and experience what they wanted. That was the goal of the television commercial, and in effect, of the company itself at the time.
Think forward to 2010. An Apple Computer engineer, enjoying a few drinks with friends at a Redwood City bar, happens to be carrying something important in his pocket. It happens to be a secret company project , a prototype of the Apple iPhone 4G. This is not just any old set of car keys or a pencil mind you, it's the actual prototype of a secret company project. Why this Einstein would be carrying (and showing off) a secret company project outside of company property, is way beyond my comprehension.
So wait - it gets better.
This engineer now forgets the secret company project at the bar (this sounds like the opening line of a really bad techie joke) and walks away. Someone finds the phone, and the series of comedic activities continue. The (say it with me) secret company project allegedly gets sold for $5,000 to a tech website, which is soon followed by an online blog review of the (say it with me) secret company project on Gizmodo.com.
This takes us to last Friday, where a court ordered raid was performed at the home of the tech blogger who outted the iPhone 4G prototype on Gizmodo. As far as the blogger was concerned, all he did was an online review of a breakthrough technology, albeit one that was not supposed to be reviewed for at least another 3 months.
With all that conspired in this epic drama, where was Apple? And what was their mindset when they realized that their oh-so-precious secret company project was no longer a secret? The loss of what could have been one of the biggest marketing campaigns in technology history -- the new and improved iPhone 4G -- was now a complete bust. So what does a multi-billion dollar company do when they lose out on a tremendously huge marketing opportunity? Do they subject one of their own employees (remember the engineer?) to harsh public punishment for leaving secret company project at a bar?
Nope. Big Brother went after the blogger.
Apple, with all of its millions of dollars in profits, sales, marketing hype, and eager followers, went after the guy who outted them. Big Brother was displeased when someone found a chink in their armor, and they reciprocated with strong-armed vengeance. The blogger's front door was (literally) kicked in as if he were a terrorist, and all of his computers, hard drives, thumb drives, checkbooks and credit card statements were taken away. Inside sources say that Apple attorneys were allegedly behind the move, arguing to district attorneys that this blogger had committed felonious acts. Come on, this guy did an online review of a cellphone for God sake. He didn't kill anyone, and he wasn't a terrorist.
So as you contemplate why you stand for Apple, why you feel "liberated", "free" and "unhindered" by technology thanks to Apple's fine selection of technology products, just be reminded...
Big Brother is watching you, and if you ever slight him or otherwise hurt his reputation, he will get you. He proved it last Friday.