It is human (and animal) nature to be curious. We always want to know about what we don’t know. And when you try to stop a process in the sole of every human being, often it doesn’t work and could even lead to negative effects. So why do companies still do it? I take a look at our natural companions, Apple and Microsoft and compare how each deals with the rumourmill.
Apple deals with its loyal patriots by suing them. Sure, some journalists may acquire accurate details on product announcements that can be classified as trade secrets a whole two days before it is formally announced, but what are the consequences? Some Asian rip-off manufacturer gets a 2 day head-start on developing a copy-cat device, thousands upon thousands of Apple loyalists raises their credit card limits, and the news agencies goes berserk. Trade secrets are one thing, but free publicity is another. If the trade secrets were leaked only few days away from public announcement, then wouldn’t the ‘loss’ be ‘worth it’ with the all the publicity that money can’t buy?
Microsoft has only one trick up its sleeve, “Microsoft does not comment on rumours or speculation.” Other than that, Microsoft requests any posted information to be removed immediately. Although this is where it gets stupid too. (I wouldn’t know anything about this but) assume someone posted screenshots of an internal product build. The screenshots show nothing much except a number different to what has been seen before. Damages? Unless you work for this group of people, absolutely none. This is even more ridiculous than trade secrets. Screenshots are static representations of pixels and the only they reveal is in how things look. And I’m sure those who care about how things look won’t be so easily manipulated to leak out screenshots.
Rumours can do more good than harm, they satisfy the wants of enthusiasts and loyalists and generate positive publicity. Companies should stop focusing on how to shut down rumours, and divert their attention to how to utilize rumours as a marketing opportunity. Allowing the spread of false rumours can even damage the integrity of companies through excessive hype for products that merely do not exist, just ask Apple. Being able to send out the right rumours at the right times can create unimaginable results, just ask Google.
But back to reality, nothing’s going to change. Apple will continue to hate their more-than-eager loyalists. And Microsoft will continue to pull screenshots off the face of the internet. Whilst millions of people get excited by the list of domains Google owns.