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Apple's Mystique: The Dark Side

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Case Details:


Case Code : BECG112 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 300;
For delivery through Shipping & Handling Charges extra: Rs. 300 +Shipping & Handling Charges extra


Business Ethics / Corporate Governance / Organizational culture / Corporate Communication
Case Length : 22 Pages
Period : 2008-2009
Pub Date : 2010
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Apple Inc.
Industry : Consumer Electronics
Countries : US; Global


Over the years, the US-based technology giant Apple Inc. (Apple) have earned the reputation for its innovative products and for its ability to create a huge amount of hype surrounding its new product launches. Experts felt that its success was, in part, due to the mystique surrounding Apple and its products which has been created by the company by maintaining a veil of secrecy. So much so, that secrecy has become one of the key elements of Apple's corporate culture. Critics contend that this aspect of Apple's culture also has a dark side. Apple imposed harsh sanctions on employees who violated rules by sharing information. Due to its obsession with secrecy, Apple sued bloggers, online journalists and former employees for disclosing confidential details about upcoming products.

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In 2009, the company also attracted criticism for failing to disclose vital information regarding CEO Steve Jobs' health to its shareholders. Some critics opined that this strict insistence on absolute secrecy was robbing Apple of its humanity and has also become morally and ethically untenable.


Study how Apple maintained a culture of secrecy at the company.

Understand why this culture of secrecy maintained at Apple, which supposedly gave Apple a competitive edge, have also attracted criticism for the company.

Discuss whether the Apple's actions were ethical.

Discuss whether there should be a change in the company's policy in this regard.


  Page No.
Cost of the Secrets Behind Apple's Success 1
Background Note 3
The Mystique Surrounding Apple and its Products 5
How a Culture of Secrecy was Maintained 7
Implications 11
Time for a Change? 13
Exhibits 15


Ethics, Secrecy, Monitoring, Privacy, Corporate governance, Full disclosure, Culture of secrecy, Corporate culture, Transparency, Competitive edge, Public relations, Legal, Contemporary capitalism, Dark side, Apple

Cost of the Secrets Behind Apple's Success - Next Page>>


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