So in the saga of Apple’s leaked next generation iPhone, there was a conspiracy explanation going around that it was just a ploy by Apple to get free publicity ahead of the likely June launch of the upgrade. Of course, it is hard to imagine that Apple who can get all the publicity they want without any tricks should try such an uncontrolled route.
It turns out that Apple are claiming otherwise but also that the leak was damaging commercially to them. Here is the report of what the Apple attorney said:
“By publishing details about the phone and its features, sales of current Apple products are hurt wherein people that [sic] would have otherwise purchased a currently existing Apple product would wait for the next item to be released, thereby hurting overall sales and negatively effecting [sic] Apple’s earnings,” Riley said, according to the affidavit Brand swore out for a search warrant of Chen’s residence.
When Brand asked Riley to put a dollar amount on the loss, Riley said he could not estimate it, but believed it was “huge.”
Well, this is a testable proposition. We can look at the decline in sales (if any) of iPhones in April following the leak and compare it to the decline in sales that arise in April every year when it becomes clear Apple will release a new iPhone in the next few months. We would also have to offset this decline with any increase in sales that might have come from the additional publicity. After all, an iPhone sale lost today is one gained tomorrow. So the ‘huge’ loss is the loss in interest on iPhone sales between April and June. Of course, Apple may have hoped to clear out inventory of old iPhones in these months and so the loss may be there too. But I don’t think Apple would want to claim that the loss is arising from a lost opportunity to duping customers to buy older phones.