Apple’s strict approach to secrecy in the spotlight after Hyundai walks back Apple Car statement

Hyundai made a bold statement last week, confirming that it was in talks with Apple about a potential partnership for Apple Car. Shortly thereafter, the company backtracked and published a new statement without a mention of Apple.

This is yet another example of Apple’s strict approach to secrecy, and a new report from CNBC offers some more detail on Apple’s strategy.

For reference, here is Hyundai’s first statement on Apple Car:

“We understand that Apple is in discussion with a variety of global automakers, including Hyundai Motor. As the discussion is at its early stage, nothing has been decided.”

The subsequent statement released shortly after:

“We’ve been receiving requests of potential cooperation from diverse companies regarding development of autonomous driving EVs, but no decisions have been made as discussions are in early stage.”

The report explains that while nondisclosure agreements are common, Apple’s approach is even stricter. Citing “people familiar with the matter,” CNBC says that Apple instructs partners that they are not to mention Apple by name in public or to the media.

Apple’s strict approach confidentiality is described as a “lot of hoops to jump through” by one source in the story:

Apple tells partners they can’t mention Apple in public or to the media, according to people familiar with the matter who didn’t want to be identified to avoid risking their relationship with Apple. One person who has worked with Apple described its secrecy requirements as a lot of hoops to jump through.

The report goes on to point out one small piece of information that was gleaned from bankruptcy proceedings by GT Advanced Technologies. GT Advanced Technologies had entered into an agreement with Apple to provide sapphire for iPhone screens, but ultimately declared bankruptcy after manufacturing difficulties.

During bankruptcy proceedings, GT presented a contract labeled confidential that said GT would have to pay Apple $50 million per leak. The contract mentioned three separate confidentiality contracts to which the sapphire maker had agreed. GT also said the terms of its confidentiality agreements were required to be secret.

CNBC adds that Apple settled with GT Advanced after the fact, and condition of the settlement was that the “description of its relationship with Apple” would be kept private.

9to5Mac’s Take

As Apple enters new industries, it’s interesting to watch how its approach to secrecy evolves.

For instance, Apple TV+ content announcements are not as tightly controlled as other announcements from Apple. We often learn about upcoming TV shows and movies early in the process, and even learn details about Apple’s acquisition costs for specific content.

This is likely an instance of Apple adapting to the norms of the Hollywood industry, rather than trying to apply its usual approach to secrecy.

Nonetheless, the supply chain still remains one of the top sources for hardware rumors in regards to the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and other hardware products.

The full report at CNBC is well worth read and can be found here.

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