Apple's iPhone 6 show under a cloud after leak of nude pics

The leak of nude celebrity photos inevitably muddies the atmosphere of what promised to be CEO Tim Cook's most exciting launch presentation. What can Apple do about it?

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When a movie star very publicly identifies your product with excreta, suddenly there's a lot to think about. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

When Kirsten Dunst describes one of your products with emojis signifying pizza and excreta, you know you have a problem.

Celebrities might love to pose in Ellen's Samsung selfies at the Oscars, but you know that many, like Ellen herself, have iPhones.

The mere idea that these deep thinkers might have second thoughts about Apple's effortless style translates to a problem for the company.

In issuing a statement yesterday about a hack that exposed nude photos of celebrities and that some attributed to a possible flaw in iCloud or the Find my iPhone app, Apple denied there had been any breach in any of its systems. However, the most important word in the statement was "outraged."

Yes, it sounded as if Apple was outraged about the theft of intimate photos. It's equally outraged by how this highly public stink might infect its unveiling of the iPhone 6 -- and perhaps even some sort of wearable piece -- on September 9.

With Samsung enduring struggles aplenty, it seemed as if Apple had successfully built momentum toward its promise that this launch would be unlike any other since the iPad.

Rumors that the iPhone 6 would be the very best (and biggest) since, oh, the iPhone 4, made for heady anticipation. Plans for the so-called iWatch have been kept so hidden that no one is even sure whether it will be a watch.

It all seemed to be going Apple's way. And then some boys decided to teeter into iCloud for a titter.

Aside from the tittering, another suggestion about the Apple event is that the company will unveil a mobile payments platform.

If you can't trust your iPhone with intimate images, are you suddenly going to use it as your portable ATM? And what about Apple's HealthKit? Can you be sure your most personal health details will be kept securely?

Regardless, whether Apple's security was lax is perhaps less the issue than the fact that its polished image has Dunst's emojis plastered all over it.

Tim Cook has mere days to decide what he will say to regain confidence. It may be that ordinary, non-Dunst humans are mere dunces about this security thing.

But they're seeing it all over their Facebook and Twitter feeds. They follow Jenifer Lawrence a lot more closely than they follow Apple. They might, just might, begin to question the wisdom of their phones being all things to them.

Cook can hardly ignore that. He may well be a reassuring presence, but he and his scriptwriters will have to find elegant phrases that will represent more than mere patches.

He'll have to spend some time restoring confidence in the very principle of trusting your iPhone and its attendant iCloud.

He'll have to offer some detailed explanation as to why your life, sucked into the new, slightly larger screen, will be preserved with care.

He can't give complete reassurance, as the Web is fundamentally a porous entity.

But we're in the realm of image management now.

How much finessing or even distortion will he choose to project to make his company's new products reek of pure excitement?

I await Dunst's review on September 9.

 

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