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An exposé being written by a former Apple App Store manager has raised the ire of Apple, which is now trying to block its publication by insisting that it reveals the company’s “business secrets.”
Titled App Store Confidential, the book, which is already available on Amazon, was written by Tom Sadowski, who headed the German App Store until last fall, and claims to be a personal testimonial of his experiences while in Apple’s employment.
German publication Focus (Google Translate) reports that Apple’s lawyers have sent a cease-and-desist letter to Sadowski and his publisher, Hamburg’s Murmann Verlag, ordering them to stop distributing the book, to recall all copies that are already in circulation, and to destroy all of the manuscripts for the book.
The basis for these demands, according to Apple, are that the book “reveals business secrets” that are “of considerable economic value” for the company, and that Sadowski was in violation of his employment contract by disclosing privileged information that he obtained while working at Apple.
When asked for a comment by Focus, Apple responded by saying that the company “has long supported a free press and supports authors of all kinds” but must apply its “employment guidelines equally and fairly to all employees.”
For his part, Sadowski denies revealing any company secrets in the book, although this hasn’t placated Apple in any way. Thus far, Sadowski and his publisher, Murmann, have refused to comply with Apple’s demands, meaning that the company will have to take further legal action if it actually wants to suppress the book.
It seems that Apple may be a bit overzealous here, however, since at least some who have read the book suggest that it doesn’t really reveal anything that most people don’t already know about Apple anyway. As German technology news site Golem.de (Google Translate) reports, Apple is seeking to “prevent a book full of obvious things.”
In fact, after reading Sadowski’s book, Tobias Költzsch of Golem said he couldn’t quite understand why Apple is so concerned about the book, insisting that it doesn’t reveal any business secrets, but only “a number of banalities and obvious facts.”
For example, at one point Sadowski reports on his own personal experiences, making the book “more of a field report” than anything else, and much of what he highlights are App Store Guidelines that are already common knowledge as published by Apple itself — requires for apps to “enrich the lives of the users” or “convert users into paying customers” aren’t exactly big revelations.
Költzsch describes other elements of the book as being simply “banal,” reporting anecdotal information about interactions between team members, such as “My colleague at the time and today’s Sony Germany boss Patrick not only had a very good nose here, but also the appropriate cojones to box through the project internally.” (Quote Translated from German via Google).
While it’s possible that Apple is slightly bothered by sections where the author reports about feedback from its U.S. corporate headquarters, it’s also possible that the title itself has been enough to set Apple off, since the author and publisher are clearly positioning it as a “tell-all” book that would actually share secrets of the App Store. In fact, it’s unclear if anybody on Apple’s legal or executive teams have actually read the book.
Of course, Apple may also just be attempting to block the book on sheer principle, regardless of its content, due to the terms of Sadowski’s contrast allegedly precluding him from disclosing anything about the time he spent working at Apple. The company has an obsession with secrecy that rivals that of most classified military facilities, and has long prevented Apple employees from talking about their work, and the company has been known to fire even front-line retail employees for far less.
In the case of Sadowski’s book, however, Apple’s attempts to block its publication could turn it into a must-read, since many more people are going to be curious to read a book that Apple doesn’t want them to see.