March 22, 2010, 7:56 AM — For most of us, Apple's iPad arrives on April 3rd, but there are some developers out there with units now. So why aren't we awash with leaked photos and video clips?
Because Apple is crazy-serious when it comes to secrecy and the iPad. Emphasis, perhaps, on the crazy. According to a Business Week article, any company wanting an early iPad has to agree to keep the hardware in a room with blacked out (or no) windows, and it has to be tethered to a non-movable object. Before Apple will hand over an iPad, they need to see photographs of the room where the iPad will be kept so that they can determine if it meets their requirements. The NDA is said to run 10 pages, though apparently the NDA covers the NDA since no one seems willing to share a copy of it.
On the one hand, this level of security around a piece of hardware that's been displayed and has its tech specs published is ludicrous. Is Apple really worried that a potential competitor will peek though a window and see some secret facet of the iPad that can be exploited between now and April 3rd? Probably this is all about marketing. Who can resist sharing a story like this, and for as crazy as it makes Apple look, it's just another vector for spreading word of the iPad.
On the other hand, what if Apple does have something to hide, not from competitors, but from potential customers? It's hard to imagine what kind of heinous flaw this would be, but the possibility is intriguing (if you have any ideas, please leave a comment).
We'll know soon enough. In the meantime, potential developers are welcome to purchase an iPad "simulator" in order to get apps ready for the launch of the device (though iPhone developers get it for free). As of last Friday, Apple was accepting submissions for iPad apps. Most of which, we can infer, have not been tested on actual hardware at the time of submission.