Minority Report: Apple - bring back the lawyers

Blog: It was more fun that way...

Blog: It was more fun that way...

Apple is now allowing fan sites to post accurate product photos before the big Steve Jobs announcements. Seb Janacek asks: where's the fun in that?

An interesting thing happened in the run-up to the release of Apple's new MacBooks this week.

Several Mac rumour and personal technology sites published accurate pictures of the new notebook. And then nothing happened.

Similarly, at the launch of the new iPods in September, a number of websites published accurate photos of the new nano design and then, again, nothing happened.

Interesting, eh?

Minority Report

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Remember when any report containing actual product images were removed swiftly and replaced with a banner that stated the graphics had been taken down at the behest of Apple's legal department, prompting a mad scramble in the general direction of Google's cached pages in search of the 'officially confirmed' sneak peek?

The decision not to issue 'cease and desist' notices is a hugely significant development for Apple, a company which previously considered its intellectual property to be sacrosanct ahead of official Steve Jobs-hosted events.

Lest we forget, a few years ago the company instigated legal action against the very same rumour sites that are now releasing spoilers ahead of official announcements. Think Secret, one of the sites pursued by the company, agreed to shut down as part of its settlement.

The change has certainly been influenced by the horrible PR problems caused by Apple's legal crusade against bloggers and other web publishers.

Yesterday's announcement about upgrades to Apple's range of notebooks was widely anticipated.

The line of computers got a more unified look and feel, and a new range of configurations.

An interesting development was the glass trackpad which allows for greater 'multi-touch' control and eschews a separate and discrete button; instead the whole trackpad is a button.

In addition to demonstrating a nifty manufacturing process that showed a block of aluminium being carved into a notebook, Jobs and other executives stressed how the company has continued to make big steps towards its Greener Apple pledge with high levels of recyclable elements used throughout the notebooks and improved energy efficiency.

The company brought its old white MacBook below the $1,000 mark but there was no $800 laptop, as some people predicted.

In a Q&A session at the end, Jobs and others disclosed that Blu-ray is a licensing hell hole which they'll stay clear of until it calms down and netbooks represent a 'nascent market' that is just finding its feet.

The net result was a keynote that delivered a new range of notebooks but nothing which hadn't already reported on Engadget, AppleInsider and other sites.

Even the pricing and model configurations were leaked ahead of time and discussed ad nauseam on message boards.

In conclusion, an Apple event with some decent products but no surprises.

Seriously, where's the fun in that?

Bring back secrecy! Bring back the lawyers! Bring back the old Apple!