Friday, 14 November 2008

Is Kevin Rose untouchable?

Have you seen this month's Inc magazine? OK, so it's not the kind of magazine I normally read either. But whilst waiting for a flight at Philadelphia airport tonight, I saw Kevin Rose staring at me from the front cover of Inc, on the newsstand.

I bought a copy, to read the article, entitled "How Kevin Rose captured the hearts and minds of the most desirable customers on the face of the planet." It painted a picture that was somewhat different from the convivial bon-vivant we know and love from Diggnation.

It portrayed Rose as the next Rupert Murdoch - you decide whether that's a compliment or not, I couldn't tell. It also described the breathless adulation that Rose encountered at a recent Diggnation live event in New York. This certainly tallies with my experience in (attempting to) attend Diggnation at FOWA in London, last month. This was not like attending an esoteric geek-meet, it was more like a U2 stadium gig.

Well, to cut to the chase, this article got me thinking. Many have speculated that Apple's policy towards protecting their secrets has changed in the light of the company's lack of response to Rose's iPod nano leak. But an alternative explanation comes to mind. Has Rose become untouchable? As Nicholas Ciarelli (aka Nick De Plume, aka Think Secret) himself speculates, "perhaps Apple is now seeking to avoid legal fisticuffs with more established companies that are less likely to cave in to its demands." Rose is more than just a company, of course, he's an online legend, with thousands of follows (whom, if Inc's photoshoot is to be believed, chase him around wherever he goes, like dewey-eyed sycophants.)

Unlike Inc magazine, I'm not implying that Rose is powerful on a Rupert Murdoch/Mr Burns level, but rather that he's become what is known in the UK as a "Queen Mum." Or in other words, someone in the public eye who is regarded so fondly that not a word can be said against them. It turns out that Manuel from Faulty Towers also falls into this category, as Russell Brand learned to his cost, whilst George W Bush and the Jonas Brothers do not.

Of course, it is possible that Apple have decided to relax their attitude towards leaks, but I doubt it. It's very likely that their security efforts are focusing more on prevention, rather than those tell-tale take down notices of yore. But I can't help suspecting that Apple doesn't dare to take on Rose, because they can't afford to incur the wrath of his fan base.

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