Apple's secrets revealed -- for a price

Fortune magazine's inside look at Apple opens up the company's operations -- and introduces a new way of spreading news on the Web

There's an interesting test going on in the world of Webbernet publishing right now -- well, interesting to me; I can't speak for the rest of Cringeville.

Fortune magazine just published an in-depth, exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at how Apple operates. That story in itself offers up a few fascinating factoids, per author Adam Lashinsky. Witness:

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  • Steve Jobs's obscenity-laced tirade in front of Apple's MobileMe team after its disastrous launch in summer 2008.
  • Jobs's sermon on the differences between janitors and VPs at Apple (janitors get to explain why they screwed up, but veeps don't).
  • The Apple "Top 100," a meeting of the top 100 Apple employees, as deemed by Jobs, that takes place each year in a secret location.
  • The fact that Jobs calls the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg "our friend." No surprise, really, to anyone who's followed Mossberg's coverage of the iPhone and his extraordinary access to Jobs. But you don't usually hear CEOs talking about reporters that way.

Here's the really interesting part: Instead of publishing that story first to the Web and then to print, Fortune published only a brief excerpt on the Web. The rest was published on the magazine's iPad app ($5 for a single issue, $20 for a year's subscription), or via a 99 cent download for the Kindle, though it won't be available until tomorrow -- damn them.

This brings us front and center to the debate over Internet paywalls, which I've written about a few times in this space. That issue is coming up a lot more now that the New York Times has erected a wall of its own. In brief:

  • The argument for paywalls: They might just save the few publications still standing, as well as cover the bar bills of the reporters and editors who still collect a regular paycheck.
  • The argument against paywalls: It takes only one blogger to pay for the content and spill the beans for free to make that paywall about as useful as a hydroelectric dam made out of Captain Crunch boxtops.

Naturally you'd expect that would be the case here too. To a certain degree, it was (that's how I know as much as I do about that article, not being an iPadder).

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