Almost every year there is a rash of unintentional disclosures of confidential product info that coincides with the giant product-placement orgy that is the Consumer Electronics Show.
The flood of product announcements is so heavy , competition for attention is so intense and the embargoes on specific bits of product information conflict so often that smaller companies listed only in the "partners" section of big-vendor announcements often try to beat the rush by putting out their own announcements early, "accidentally" (or even accidentally) include details about big-vendor products that are supposed to be secret for another day or two.
They always apologize, often retract their announcements, frequently end up divorced or estranged from the giant vendor that had been a key partner and sometimes get enough free publicity from news stories covering revelation of the big secret to make up for a few months of testy relations with a big vendor.
Some of the "leaks" are kind of stupid: Casio decorated the outside of one CES venue with three-story-tall photos of its super-secret, multihinged, touchscreen-enabled Tryx digital camera, apparently believing firmly enough that the revelation would go unrevealed that Google had to delete the cached version of the page on Casio's site that supported the real-world ads with high-res images of the camera itself.
Some partnerships through which secrets leak are a little odd. No one seems to know why Wells Fargo's Advisors site accidentally revealed details about the innovative mirrorless, compact Fuji X-Pro1 digital camera and a $6,000 16.2 megapixel, CMOS image-sensing, full-resolution, 10-fps digital single-lens-reflex camera from Nikon.
The stories were short-lived on the news site of Wells Fargo Advisors, but live on at sites like PhotoRumors, which picked up both camera stories.
Please ignore the information you just received; no one sent it
The best retraction of an unintentional revelation so far is from Korean smartphone-accessory vendor Anymode, which put out a press release touting the "first accessories for the Samsung Galaxy Note" – the successor to Samsung's well-reviewed Galaxy smartphone that is due to be available in the U.S. early in 2012.
The release invited members of the press to visit with Anymode at CES and to check out demos of the Samsung Galaxy Note at the booth of AT&T, which acquired the right to distribute the unreleased phone:
Anymode is introducing its accessories into the North American market for the first time at CES. AT&T recently named Anymode as OEM vendor for many of its Galaxy Note accessories. Samsung has shipped more than one million Galaxy Notes globally as of December 2011. The Note is expected to be available in the United States in early 2012 through AT&T. – Anymode press release Jan. 5, 2012
The problem is that AT&T has not announced that it acquired rights to distribute Galaxy Note, though it already sells the earlier Samsung Galaxy.
The embarrassingly frank and impossibly vague retraction that came out this morning apologized to members of the press for providing a release that "contained inaccurate information" without saying what information about AT&T, the Samsung Galaxy Note or Anymode was actually inaccurate
The way the retraction avoided naming a culprit implied the PR agency or distributor that sent out the release were to blame for the error.
Vendor indignation saps coolness from pointlessly secret smartphone deal
The language in the retraction tried to hard to distance all the major vendors from any connection with the release, however, that all it did was imply the original release jumped the gun on its own, generating spontaneously from the overheated atmosphere of the hype-nosphere itself:
JANUARY 6, 2012 --The January 5, 2012 CES Media Alert titled "Anymode Introduces First Accessories for Samsung Galaxy Note" contained inaccurate information pertaining to AT&T and the release of the Samsung Galaxy Note. The information was not provided by Anymode, AT&T or Samsung , nor did Anymode, AT&T or Samsung approve it. – Retraction of Anymode press release, Jan. 6, 2012
The information couldn't have originated with the PR agency or the distributor, neither of which would have known anything about the Samsung Galaxy Note if one of the vendors didn't provide the information.
But if AT&T didn't provide the information, it didn't come from Samsung and Anymode didn't say anything, then the information itself is a paradox.
If a time traveler gave William Shakespeare copies of his Compleat Works before the Bard wrote anything, allowing Shakespeare to simply copy the plays out in longhand and claim them as new, then who wrote Hamlet?
No one? Or, perhaps, the same mysterious gremlins who ensure there are gaps in the wall of secrecy vendors build around their products until they believe a sudden revelation will overwhelm, delight and extract money from their intended audiences?
Ultimately, the answer is the same for that question as the appropriate response to indignant protests from the vendors whose veil of self-serving secrecy has been pierced: Who cares?
Read more of Kevin Fogarty's CoreIT blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinFogarty. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.