Apple fans mourned Thursday when Think Secret, one of the Internet's most popular Apple rumormongering websites, agreed to shut down in a legal settlement of an Apple-filed lawsuit from 2005. In exchange for shutting down, the site's owner Nick Ciarelli was able to keep secret the names of his sources. If identified, Apple probably would have fired and sued the sources on site.
Ciarelli is a twenty-one year old Harvard undergraduate who founded Think Secret when he was thirteen years old. Though neither side is talking, most people presume that Apple paid Ciarelli a chunk of cash as part of the settlement. After all, Apple lost two other suits it brought against website publishers at the same time that it sued Think Secret. It was forced to pay the other sites' publishers $700,000 in legal fees, indicating that Ciarelli had a strong case. It's great that Ciarelli got paid, but the bottom line is that Apple was able to squelch a media source it didn't like by throwing money at it.
It's understandable that Apple wants to shut off leaks, but doing it by suing journalists makes it look less like a company that "thinks different," and more like Microsoft, a company that Apple portrays in its advertisements as insecure and uncreative.
What does all this mean for you, the consumer? As long as Apple continues to intimidate its employees and be generally nasty towards the press, there will be fewer leaks like this pre-announcement iPod Nano image.
Outraged views from around the web after the jump.
Apple won, the world loses out
"[Apple's lawyers] have managed to use Apple's deep pockets to pay off one of the greatest Web sites for Apple rumors and information, Think Secret… The loss… has massive implications in the Apple community, which has exploded over the past year. Since its launch in 1998, Think Secret was never 100-percent accurate with its predictions— but it created a buzz effect throughout the Web." , PC World
This is a loss for Apple
"Unlike blogosphere commentators, [Ciarelli's lawyer] claimed the settlement was a loss for Apple, not Ciarelli or other bloggers. 'It's clear that Apple filed the lawsuit with such fanfare, but then stopped the entire litigation because they thought they were going to lose, and that they'd end up paying [Nick] a lot of money for it,' [he said]." , Computer World
At least Ciarelli has journalistic integrity
"On a bright note, until the bitter end Think Secret never gave up [its] sources; Think Secret editor Nick Ciarelli should be praised for continuing to take the high moral ground" , TechCrunch
Apple can do no wrong. It should sue all leaks and most pesky journalists.
"Apple's intent was not so much to intimidate a scrappy young journalist who stepped over the line but to protect the secrecy of its products. Not only does hiding its unannounced innovations from competitors until the last possible moment serve Apple's business interests, but secrecy is also a key to its marketing strategy." , The Baltimore Sun
More Think Secret, please!
"We wish [Ciarelli] the best; we'd wish him better if he’d start up a new site!" , Blorge.com
Apple preys on the weak
"If a publication such as the New York Times had published such information, it would be called good journalism; Apple never would have considered a lawsuit." , as quoted on All Things D
Bloggers aren't going anywhere. Plus, give your fans a break.
"Apple: Quit being so mean. Suing bloggers who help encourage your cult of selective publicity and persistent secrecy isn’t going to make you any friends, and in fact makes you look petty among the very people you consider core to your target market… For every Nick Ciarelli you sue out of business, there’s going to be another five or 10 or 20 would-be Apple rumor bloggers who are willing to do exactly what he did." , Business Week
Ciarelli just got bored.
"With Apple realizing it wasn't going to win in court and Ciarelli preparing to graduate from Harvard and move on to other areas of interest, Apple may have simply offered a little money to prompt Ciarelli to do what he was already planning to do: kill Think Secret." , Wired
We think that disgruntled Apple employees will be able to leak information just fine without Think Secret. Are you miss in mourning?