Apple won’t say which parts of App Store Confidential book it finds too revealing, publisher claims

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Apple's not happy about former Apple employee Tom Sadowski's new book, App Store Confidential.
Apple's not happy about the new book App Store Confidential.
Photo: Murmann Verlag

App Store Confidential, the recently released German-language book written by a former App Store manager, is seemingly so confidential that even Apple won’t reveal the bits it thinks are classified, according to legal counsel representing the book’s publisher.

Dr. Ralph Oliver Graef said that Apple won’t disclose which parts of the book it considers to be so important and, therefore, damaging. “[Apple has said] that it is too confidential to tell us what the business secrets contained in the book are,” Graef told Cult of Mac. Graef is the Hamburg-based media lawyer from the law firm GRAEF Rechtsanwälte, who is representing publisher Murmann Verlag.

“[O]ur client is publishing the book,” he said. “They know the content of the book, they have read every single page. And Apple is saying the content of the book is so confidential that they cannot identify the confidential parts.”

Apple threatened legal action against author Tom Sadowski and his publisher last month. Apple requested that Murmann Verlag destroy all manuscripts of the book and recall any copies in circulation. Apple claimed that it contained information of “considerable economic value” to the company.

The only part of the book Apple has specifically objected to is a story about Blinkist, a book-summarizing subscription service based in Berlin, Germany. Blinkist provides reviews of non-fiction books in both text and audio form.

In App Store Confidential, Sadowski describes how he introduced Blinkist to the mergers and acquisitions department at Apple about possibly acquiring Blinkist. “The feedback from Cupertino was very positive, but in the end there was no deal,” he wrote (translated).

App Store Confidential: Not so confidential?

Graef pointed out that revelations Tim Cook met with the team at Blinkist had already been reported in the news. While he made no mention of a possible acquisition, Cook tweeted about meeting the company’s team members.

“Impressed with the growing and talented team at @Blinkist,” Cook tweeted in September 2019. “Helping everyone understand and experience some of the best non-fiction books is a great example of how a single idea from college can evolve into a solution for a problem we all share — too little time!”

According to Graef, Apple has still made no official application for a preliminary injunction or issued a writ, the legal documentation it would need to officially file a complaint. In the meantime, the book remains on sale.

“I can only speculate [as to why],” said Graef, who is a member of both the German and New York bar. “They vetted the legal situation and realized that they will lose a court battle. So they backed down. It is what we have been telling them for the last four weeks.”

App Store Confidential was published at a time that Apple faces increased scrutiny about its operation of the App Store. It is possible that right now Apple doesn’t want the extra attention on how it operates its app repository.