Fortune interviews iPhone 5C 'leaker' Sonny Dickson
Speaking at the All Things D conference in May of 2012, Apple CEO Tim Cook assuredly said that Apple was "going to double down on secrecy on products."
The problem, however, is that Apple's supply chain is so vast that keeping new and exciting products under wraps ahead of a big reveal is extremely hard to do, especially given the public's voracious appetite for even the tiniest morsel of Apple news.
Next Tuesday, Apple will, by many accounts, unveil two brand-new iPhone devices. Thanks to a series of leaks over the past few months, it's widely assumed that Apple next week will introduce an iPhone 5S with a fingerprint-authorization sensor alongside a lower-cost iPhone dubbed the iPhone 5C. What's more, leaked photos suggest that the iPhone 5C will be available in an assortment of colors.
So despite Cook's efforts to "double down on secrecy," stories surrounding Apple's next-gen iPhones have nonetheless leaked out.
So just who is responsible for all of these leaks?
Well, while a single individual isn't typically responsible for every leak, Fortune recently took a look at a leaker who has provided a plethora of leaks regarding upcoming iOS products.
While the name Sonny Dickson may not sound familiar, you've likely seen his work if you've perused any Apple rumor blogs as of late.
Over the past few weeks, Dickson has put out pre-release photos purporting to show various color models of the iPhone 5C along with photos depicting champagne- and graphite-colored models of the iPhone 5S.
While it remains to be seen how accurate Dickson's latest leaks are, he has historically been able to acquire authentic parts for unannounced Apple products.
So how does Dickson operate?
Well, he told Fortune that many of his sources work for Apple in China, some of whom he's forged friendships with via the Chinese-language site Weibo.
Like many young men his age, Dickson got interested in Apple with the release of the original iPhone in 2007. Starting out as an iOS developer, he made a small name for himself extracting information hidden in the code of Apple's beta software. His first notable score in the parts trade came last year when he got his hands on what turned out to be the logic board of the unreleased iPhone 5.
But he hit it big this summer with the first leaked photos of what he says are parts for four unannounced Apple products: the iPhone 5C, the iPhone 5S, the iPad Mini 2 and the iPad 5.
Naturally, with each passing "scoop," Dickson became more widely known and it was only a matter of time before Apple took notice. Indeed, Dickson was the man responsible for putting up internal Apple training videos on YouTube before they were removed following a copyright claim from Apple.
Dickson told Fortune that computers in Cupertino visited his website more than 900 times in the last month.
Not surprisingly, Dickson doesn't appear to have any moral conflict about the information he posts.
"Some people think I may be breaking the law," Dickson explains, "but they don't really know what I do. I'm not breaking any laws that other people don't do."
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