If I can steal a quote from Mr. Shimoon, Apple has long been “crazy” about keeping new products a secret. Analysts love to throw out prediction after prediction, but when we get down to the truth of the matter, none of us knows anything about Apple’s secrets until Jobs himself wants us to. That is, except for component suppliers and their employees, one of which today pleaded guilty to leaking Apple’s trade secrets regarding the iPhone and iPad.
Walter Shimoon, ex-employee at one of Apple’s component suppliers Flextronics, had access to unannounced information back in 2009 and decided that sharing is caring. He then relayed said secrets to New York-based Kingdom Ridge Capital, a hedge fund. Most of what Shimoon spilled was related to quarterly sales figures, specifically that he leaked the data two and a half weeks before it was released to the public, but he also threw out some juicy tidbits about the iPhone 4 and the (then unannounced) iPad.
The FBI bugged Shimoon’s phones, so we’re lucky enough to see just what was said between the devious Shimoon and Kingdom Ridge Capital:
The iPhone 4:
Shimoon promised that Apple was “coming out next year” with a new iPhone that’s “gonna have two cameras” […] “It’ll be a neat phone because it’s gonna have a five-megapixel auto-focus camera and it will have a VGA forward-facing videoconferencing camera.”
Just eight months after this conversation, Steve Jobs got on stage holding an iPhone 4 and showed us FaceTime with its “VGA forward-facing videoconferencing camera.”
The iPad (then unannounced):
“They [Apple] have a code name for something new … It’s … It’s totally … It’s a new category altogether… It doesn’t have a camera, what I figured out. So I speculated that it’s probably a reader. Something like that. Um, let me tell you, it’s a very secretive program. It’s called K, K48. That’s the internal name. So, you can get, at Apple you can get fired for saying K48. That’s how crazy they are about it.”
This time, Shimoon cut it a bit closer. “K48” was announced just four months later.
We’re not quite sure why Shimoon doesn’t speak in complete sentences, although it could be the excitement of underhandedly profiting $560,000 in October of 2009 for his company. Either way, we’re glad he fessed up to his crimes, including two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of security fraud. Sentencing won’t begin until 2013, so that leaves you plenty of time to read the indictment in its entirety, which was leaked by the Wall Street Journal.