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Earlier this month we heard several pretty solid rumours that Apple was planning to hold a March 23 product release event. However, after this week’s deadline for Apple to send out invites came and went with nary a peep, it’s quickly become apparent that it won’t be happening. In fact, now it looks like the date may have been part of a deliberate disinformation campaign by Apple from the very beginning.
Although it’s fairly common for leakers and others in the Apple rumour mill to throw around dates for events — at least one had previously pegged March 16 — it’s a lot less common for several to corroborate a single date and then later turn out to all be spectacularly wrong.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that Apple originally planned a March 23 event and then later decided to postpone it, but that doesn’t seem likely. The theory here is that Apple ran into unanticipated production delays, but the problem with this idea is that Apple presumably has a good enough sense of its production timelines to avoid being caught off guard by things like this.
Popular leaker Jon Prosser has another theory, however. In his latest video, Prosser is claiming that Apple planted the March 23 date as part of a “sting” operation to try and track down a weak link within its ranks.
That said, Prosser admits that he was so sure about the March 23 date that he had promised to shave his eyebrows if it didn’t happen, so we can’t entirely rule out the fact that maybe Apple moved its event just to spite Prosser — maybe Tim Cook just wants to see him without his eyebrows.
In his video, however, Prosser emphasizes that there was never supposed to be a March event in the first place, and in fact, he admits to being told by a “vague” but “crazy accurate” source back in February that the event would be held in “April; not march.”
While Prosser notes that this source has been 100% accurate in even the smallest details, he also emphasizes that the information they provide is often vague, so when multiple other sources came up with March 23, he was more inclined to believe them instead.
Further, April understandably made “little to no sense” to Prosser, since Apple doesn’t traditionally hold its events in April, for whatever reason. In fact, the last time Apple held an April event was on April 8, 2010, when it announced the rebranding of its iPhone operating system to “iOS” with the unveiling of iOS 4.0.
We also know that Prosser wasn’t the only one who was reporting March 23 as the likely date — the same date was predicted by anonymous leaker Kang, who has almost a perfect track record for Apple leaks, along with l0vetodream, who has also been highly accurate in their predictions.
While there’s likely some overlap, it’s fair to say that these leakers don’t all share the same sources, and yet all three of them — and several others — came to this incorrect date independently of one another.
Since March 23rd is not here yet, Prosser has yet to actually shave off his eyebrows, but he’s conceded that the event will not be happening next week, and therefore he’s promised to air a special episode of his program on YouTube where he will actually fulfill his promise as a consequence of getting the date wrong.
While we’d normally be hesitant to mention what seems like little more than a publicity stunt, in this case Prosser will be doing it in support of a good cause. All the proceeds from Prosser’s eyebrow-shaving episode will be donated to Wigs for Kids, a charity that provides free “hair replacement systems and support” for children who have lost their hair due to various medical procedures like chemotherapy, burns, and other medical issues.
Apple’s Counter-Intelligence Program
Even though it’s amusing to think that Tim Cook just wants to see Prosser lose his eyebrows, we think that Apple’s Chief Executive has far better things to do with his time and energy.
The more likely explanation for the March 23 leak is that Apple is working to ferret out staff members who are acting as the sources for high-profile leakers like Prosser.
Obviously, this isn’t a new idea — it’s the stuff that many spy novels are made of, after all — and we suspect Apple has been doing it for years. This is one of the biggest examples we’ve seen in quite a while, however.
There’s also evidence that Apple is actively ramping up its efforts to sew up the holes in its veil of secrecy, so this could be just one part of a much larger operation.
Earlier this month, AppleInsider reported that Apple had filed a lawsuit against a former employee, Simon Lancaster, for passing trade secrets to an outside media publication.
Despite over a decade of employment at Apple, Lancaster abused his position and trust within the company to systematically disseminate Apple’s sensitive trade secret information in an effort to obtain personal benefits. He used his seniority to gain access to internal meetings and documents outside the scope of his job’s responsibilities containing Apple’s trade secrets, and he provided these trade secrets to his outside media correspondent.Apple Court Filing, via AppleInsider
Although the lawsuit doesn’t name the publication or the specific trade secrets involved, it does note that they concerned unannounced products.
Further, the fall 2019 timeline and other details laid out in the court filing strongly suggest that the main product involved was Apple’s AR headset.
The documents allege that Lancaster attended at least one meeting for a “Project X” that he wasn’t supposed to be at, which was likely the all-hands meeting in the fall of 2019 where Apple’s AR/VR team head Mike Rockwell outlined the company’s plans for its augmented reality wearables.