Now here's something you don't see every day: a manufacturer openly complaining about its own product leaks on their corporate blog. Charlie from Nokia
would "like to ask folks to do less peddling in [their] trade secrets," and lays out the myriad ways in which products get leaked (partners, employees, etc.), the supposed negative impact it has on Nokia's bottom line (lost money, angry customers, whatever), and how they feel about it (really upset). It's an interesting and sensitive topic because while companies hate having their products leaked, leaked products are our clearly part of our stock and trade here at Engadget.
Nokia kind of sums up their stance with this bit: "There are a lot of folks behind a product and leaks really screw up all the efforts." So yeah, we totally get that no one wants to have their inside info shared with the outside world -- we're a company too, and don't feel any differently. But it's up to each organization to insulate knowledge of its workings and products to prevent these kinds of leaks. It's not necessarily easy, but think there are few leaks that aren't preventable -- it's really a matter of companies taking their information security into their own hands. But just so Nokia (and everyone else) hears the other side of the story:
Not only do leaks drum up buzz and help customers make advance purchasing decisions (like whether to buy now or hold out for something coming down the pipe they'd prefer), it allows other companies to keep a closer eye on their competition. This means the marketplace is likelier to produce a product that's cheaper and/or better, if not also launched sooner. While that really sucks for the company whose products were leaked, it's ultimately really good for the consumer -- and that's who we represent. (Oh, and claiming leaks result in "a bunch of writers with no story" is actually kind of insulting to tech journos' collective intelligence.)
What we find really strange, though, is the attitude product people have about leaks totally "screwing up their efforts," which completely forsakes the early feedback they COULD be getting from their best and most engaged customers. This is precisely why some product "leaks" are actually plants to solicit unfiltered public feedback. (Yes, that really happens, although not very often.) That feedback can be positively unequaled in outing whether a product is on the right track, and we've been around long enough to know that if a product in its early stages isn't headed in the right direction, there's little chance it will be by the time it's released. Just remember that when you blame product leaks for ruining the launch of your next crappy device, okay?