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Apple asks US gov to hide iPhone details

No photos until, um, 28 days after launch

Mobile application security vulnerability report

Apple has petitioned the US Federal Communications Commission to keep details of the iPhone 4 secret — some for a month and a half, some in perpetuity.

Saying that Apple is secretive is akin to saying that the sky is blue or that water is wet. Still, Apple's letter to the FCC, as revealed by Patently Apple, is a veritable goldmine for conspiracy buffs.

In the letter, sent on June 4, Apple's EMC & Wireless Compliance Manager, Robert Seinfeld, asks the FCC to keep the following info under wraps for 45 days:

  • Test Setup Photographs
  • External Photographs
  • Internal Photographs
  • User Manual

Nothing really surprising here — just the normal stuff that Apple would want to keep out of the public eye before a product is released.

But – wait a minute – Apple asked the FCC to keep this material confidential for 45 days, and the iPhone 4 was revealed on June 7. Which was, let's see... [Counting on your fingers, sir?—Ed] just three days later.

So what is it that Apple doesn't want you to know before the iPhone actually makes it into the wild? That it has CDMA compatibility and Cupertino is still in talks with Verizon? Just askin'...

And why 45 days of secrecy when the iPhone 4 is scheduled to be released on June 24, a mere 17 days after its announcement? Are there planned delays in the offing? Just askin'...

And — somewhat disturbingly — what is it that Apple doesn't want you to know before you stampede along with 600,000 others to pre-order the device? Again, just askin'...

The letter's request to permanently — well, to be precise, the letter says "indefinitely" — keep other iPhone 4 details confidential are more understandable, including as they do: "technical and design information that is protected by Apple as confidential and proprietary trade secrets":

  • Block Diagram
  • Operational Description
  • Applications Processor Schematic
  • Cellular Radio Schematic
  • WiFi and Bluetooth Schematic
  • Applications Processor Bill of Material
  • Cellular Radio Bill of Material
  • WiFi and Bluetooth Bill of Material
  • Antenna Gain and Patterns

These appear to be reasonable requests — from Apple's point of view, in any case — for minimal trade-secret protection, although one assumes that any competent reverse-engineering whizbang will be able to deduce them soon enough.

It's that 45-day delay that has our tinfoil hats a-vibrating, and has us scanning the horizon for Steve Jobs trading in his Gulfstream V for a black helicopter. ®

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