Apple's secrecy about the its products is already well-known. However, the company has gone to even greater lengths to hide all details about the components that go into its equipment. According to a report by Trade Privacy
, a trade data protection company, Apple has gone so far as to conceal all of its ocean freight import records concerning the iPad from public view. Reportedly, they are the first electronics manufacturer to keep its import data secret.
Ttwo years ago, media reports predicted the arrival of the iPhone 3G before it had been announced based on data from Import Genius
, which analyzed shipping records to determine unpublished details about the product. The development of the iPhone 3G was carefully shrouded in secrecy, with security so intense at Apple's Taiwanese partner that a worker jumped off a building
following an investigation of a missing iPhone prototype. The worker had been subjected to a harsh interrogation by company security - including solitary confinement and a search of his home - and it was alleged that he may have been beaten.
Nearly a billion records filed with the US Customs Service have been made public through the Freedom of Information Act, Trade Privacy says. This has given companies like ImportGenius and Panjiva
a whole new business in collecting and analyzing those records, and selling them to competitors or the media. In 2008, after ImportGenius.com accurately predicted the arrival of Apple’s iPhone by monitoring the company’s import shipments, Apple took action to conceal their records from the public and their trade data is currently inaccessible from U.S. Customs.
Some websites, like Panjiva.com, go beyond selling records and analyze company’s importing trends, selling the evaluations to manufacturers, banks and financial analysts. “It is alarming, critical trade secrets such as manufacturer sources, quantity of goods, product descriptions, destinations, and product arrival dates are now accessible to anyone in just a few clicks on-line,” says Andrew Park, the CEO of Trade Privacy. Somewhat amusingly, however, Trade Privacy publishes the import records of giants like Microsoft, Google, Samsung and Sony on their website, which also advertises data protection services to hide such records from public view.