Apple's slavish obsession with secrecy is the subject of an extensive Wall Street Journal story this morning.

The secrecy serves to amplify interest in the company, raising the impact of new devices as they appear, but the report claims that this secrecy is vexing for business and corporate buyers.

The Wall Street Journal even relates one event when Mac customers from NASA met with Apple to discuss a particular feature they hoped to see in Macs. The NASA officials left the meeting with no clue that the feature would appear just three days later.

"Apple mostly keeps its plans for new products to itself. It rigidly compartmentalises itself so that even its own employees don't find out about coming products," the report confirms.

"While many tech companies assign internal code names to products, Apple goes a step further. It often gives different departments dissimilar code names for the same product, current and former employees say. If a code name leaks, Apple can more easily track down the department from which the leak originated," it adds.

Lists are kept of staff who know about new products.

All this secrecy goes to magnify interest in the company's designs, the report explains, which is great for its consumer sales, but vexatious for larger corporate customers, who need a road map for their IT investment to help them decide which way to go.

The corporate market is responsible for 60 per cent on global computer sales, the report points out.

Much of the secrecy appeared when Steve Jobs returned as CEO (then iCEO) to Apple. He is known to favour the consumer market above the corporate one.

Apple employees navigate a complex system of security-controlled doors, electronic identity badges, and partial disclosure, the report reveals.

Find - or begin - a discussion of this story in Macworld UK's busy Forums.