Philip Elmer-DeWitt over at Apple 2.0 is reporting that Apple has taken steps to hide ocean shipping data for its iPad. Several business intelligence companies exist that collect, analyze, and resell data of a company's shipping records. This data is sold to the company's competitors in hope that they can glean information on how well a certain product is doing by extrapolating potential sales data from the shipping records.
Companies like Trade Privacy also exist to protect trade data. Trade Privacy has stated that in anticipation of the March iPad launch, Apple has blocked its bills of lading and other import records from public access. "Apple is the only major electronics company so far to have protected their import data," Trade Privacy CEO Andrew Park told DeWitt. "Similar companies like Microsoft, Sony and Google continue to import with their product data exposed to the public."
It's unclear whether Apple is a Trade Privacy client or if Trade Privacy just has knowledge of Apple's steps to retain its iPad shipping privacy.
Apple was reportedly alarmed two years ago by media reports that predicted the arrival of the iPhone 3G before it had been announced based on data from Import Genius – a firm that collects business intelligence data on a company's shipping records and resells that data to competitors.
"Apple was caught off guard and took swift action to protect their trade-secrets from competitors," Park told DeWitt. Given Apple's history of cloak and dagger tactics, safeguarding its shipping data for the much-hyped iPad should surprise few.