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Apple puts some new hires on fake projects until they can be trusted

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
Apple's penchant for secrecy sometimes sees new engineers tasked with working on decoy products for a lengthy period of time while management vets their trustworthiness.

The revelation was widely disclosed in Adam Lashinsky's new book "" and further corroborated by a former Apple engineer during the author's appearance at LinkedIn last week.

"A friend of mine who's a senior engineer, he works on -- or did work on -- fake products I'm sure for the first part of his career, and interviewed for 9 months," the employee said. "It's intense."

The exchange between Lashinsky and the former employee was captured, below, by Fortune's Philip Elmer DeWitt.



"Inside Apple," which was first previewed by AppleInsider earlier this month, also tells of a secret room at Apple devoted solely to designing product packaging and what users experience when opening a new product



It also offers details on Steve Jobs's interest in a startup camera company before he died late last year.
post #2 of 48
OK. So am I supposed to be surprised? IIRC, it is fairly well understood that Apple engineers continue to work on fake projects as a matter of course. Fake projects help to quickly identify the source of leaks. Notice how there have been few if any real leaks since the leaks of the Power Mac G4 Mirror Double-Doors case? Leaks of the Power Mac G5 had virtually no similarity to the real G5.
post #3 of 48
What better way to assess skill they claim without mucking with the real code. Reverse compilers would look down on Hello World occurrences scattered throughout OSX.
post #4 of 48
Guilty until proven innocent?!

That's all it is. If this were politics, imagine the furor from the outraged people and the indignant press!
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Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

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Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

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post #5 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

Guilty until proven innocent?!

That's all it is. If this were politics, imagine the furor from the outraged people and the indignant press!
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There's plenty of companies that have workers work on things that don't see the light of day. Sometimes it's reversed, in that it's the minions know it's not going anywhere yet the leaders thought all along it was a strategic move.

What is the big deal, they don't get a fake salary do they? I thought that only happens to hospital interns and masters' students.
post #6 of 48
So you get paid Apple-money for a spell and they gauge your performance. Oh, the humanity! Many companies have a probationary period during which your skills on the ground are assessed and then a decision is made for continued employment. Skills in an industry like this would include technical expertise, communication skills, teamwork, people skills and the ability to abide by the NDA portion of your work contract and to not leave prototypes in a bar when you flash them as part of your macking routine. It's not that difficult, nor too much to ask of a skilled professional in a highly competitive corporate environment.
post #7 of 48
Well maybe Apple should change it's ways...oh wait...they're the most successful company of the last decade...nevermind
post #8 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

Guilty until proven innocent?!

That's all it is. If this were politics, imagine the furor from the outraged people and the indignant press!
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/

That would be because the outraged people and the indignant press understand the difference between how the Constitution applies to a public goverment official or agency versus a private corporation.
post #9 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Me View Post

Leaks of the Power Mac G5 had virtually no similarity to the real G5.

That's right, the leaks before the G5 was released didn't involve liquid coolant
post #10 of 48
Well,now we know where the Final Cut Pro X team originated!
post #11 of 48
I read this book and it's a complete waste of money. No real new information. Obviously Lashinsky didn't have a lot of access or he couldn't get former employees to spill the beans. Nothing we haven't already seen in the pages of Fortune or Business Week. The one interesting thing he claimed: the only employees (outside of himself) that Steve tolerated having a public/celebrity profile was Jony Ive.
post #12 of 48
What the heck is that video? The whole thing is distasteful if you ask me: it felt like watching children poke Steve Jobs' body with a stick.
post #13 of 48
Well I think this information was good inside Apple itself as now the things the author revealed will be copied by other companies (specially Samsung as they are specialists at copying Apple products) ...
post #14 of 48
do you guys remember "Asteroid or Q7" this was a totally fact project which people worked on design to find leak no only within Apple as well as the how the information leaked out into the web.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_v._Does

This is what I think they are talking about since this happened, there was very little information actually leaking out of Apple most of the leaks today are in the supply chain which again apple has tries to shut down as well, but this is a little harder to do since it is not always easy which of the 700K of Chinese workers took a picture or snuck out a proto in the trash.
post #15 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

do you guys remember "Asteroid or Q7" this was a totally fact project which people worked on design to find leak no only within Apple as well as the how the information leaked out into the web.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_v._Does

This is what I think they are talking about since this happened, there was very little information actually leaking out of Apple most of the leaks today are in the supply chain which again apple has tries to shut down as well, but this is a little harder to do since it is not always easy which of the 700K of Chinese workers took a picture or snuck out a proto in the trash.

I respectfully disagree. I'd argue there are significant leaks out of Cupertino. But most of them are carefully orchestrated and timed by Apple.
post #16 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

I read this book and it's a complete waste of money. No real new information. Obviously Lashinsky didn't have a lot of access or he couldn't get former employees to spill the beans. Nothing we haven't already seen in the pages of Fortune or Business Week. The one interesting thing he claimed: the only employees (outside of himself) that Steve tolerated having a public/celebrity profile was Jony Ive.

I read part of it because a friend bought it and it read like it was just rehash. And not very well written rehash at that.

I would like to see him try to back up that last claim. Because I suspect that it wasn't really the way Adam claims. I don't think the issue was Jobs tolerance but simply that he and Ive were the only ones anyone found interesting.

I would love to see Apple response to this book and the claims in it (some of which could be from articles that didn't actually have all their facts supported either) but I know they won't because of their desire for secrecy in all things

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #17 of 48
Samsung and Google have their own hiring policies:
If you can't copy an Apple product you are NOT hired.
27" iMac, i7 2.8G CPU, 16 GB, 2TB Hd, Radeon HD 4850,  MacBookPro 13",  iPad2 64Gb, 2 x  iPhone4S 32Gb, 1 x 64Gb iPhone5S, 1Tb TimeCap,  2 x Apple TV.   Got my AAPL when they were $12.50 each.
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27" iMac, i7 2.8G CPU, 16 GB, 2TB Hd, Radeon HD 4850,  MacBookPro 13",  iPad2 64Gb, 2 x  iPhone4S 32Gb, 1 x 64Gb iPhone5S, 1Tb TimeCap,  2 x Apple TV.   Got my AAPL when they were $12.50 each.
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post #18 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by elmsley View Post

What better way to assess skill they claim without mucking with the real code. Reverse compilers would look down on Hello World occurrences scattered throughout OSX.

No code should ever be submitted without being reviewed by a second senior developer. This is standard practice across the software industry.
post #19 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by thegreatbosan View Post

Samsung and Google have their own hiring policies:
If you can't copy an Apple product you are NOT hired.

And if you're an attorney and can tell the difference between Samsung's product and Apple's you don't get hired.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
post #20 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

Guilty until proven innocent?!

That's all it is. If this were politics, imagine the furor from the outraged people and the indignant press!
/
/
/

Try working where you have a top secret clearance. No difference. The fact is that there are plenty of jobs that require that you don't even tell your wife what you are doing. Sometimes the stakes are lives or national security and sometimes billions of dollars.

Anyone who does't get that is just demonstrating that they can't be trusted in matters requiring utmost secrecy.
post #21 of 48
Well I guess this is true for any over company ... except that in the case of Apple competitors, the secrecy level is pushed a step forward : even the CEO cannot say what the future will reveal as fake or not ...
post #22 of 48
I'm sure this guy is completely unbiased in pursuit of profits from the current wave of interests for books about Apple. I wonder how many years worth of research was in it for him to compare with Issacson's book. My scum detector is high on this one.
post #23 of 48
While I love this site, I don't really need you to recount information that is freely available in a book I already own and that's been on sale for days.
post #24 of 48
maybe they are not fake projects - but rather possible leads with little potential for immediate payoff. or an exercise to validate a variety of things as mentioned.

still, it sounds like we are basing Apple-wide policies on a second hand rumor - well, some guy who used to work there claimed that he worked on products that I have never seen on the shelves at the Apple Store so clearly he was working on a fake project.
post #25 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by cordisco View Post

While I love this site, I don't really need you to recount information that is freely available in a book I already own and that's been on sale for days.

You probably didn't like this website when the Steve Jobs book came out.
post #26 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by cordisco View Post

While I love this site, I don't really need you to recount information that is freely available in a book I already own and that's been on sale for days.

well don't keep that book to yourself - start passing it around so the rest of us don't have to depend on AI for our second hand rumors.
post #27 of 48
So, what's wrong with that?
post #28 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Conrail View Post

Well,now we know where the Final Cut Pro X team originated!

It was supposed to be a fake project, but somebody messed up and released it.
post #29 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by stelligent View Post

I respectfully disagree. I'd argue there are significant leaks out of Cupertino. But most of them are carefully orchestrated and timed by Apple.

How about an example or two? It's easy to have theories for whatever reason, but you might try to correlate them with facts.
post #30 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by elroth View Post

It was supposed to be a fake project, but somebody messed up and released it.

This gets old quickly.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply
post #31 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

I would like to see him try to back up that last claim. Because I suspect that it wasn't really the way Adam claims. I don't think the issue was Jobs tolerance but simply that he and Ive were the only ones anyone found interesting.

And that would be based on what exactly? I would believe the book's version much more easily than your guessing.
post #32 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

I read part of it because a friend bought it and it read like it was just rehash. And not very well written rehash at that.

I would like to see him try to back up that last claim. Because I suspect that it wasn't really the way Adam claims. I don't think the issue was Jobs tolerance but simply that he and Ive were the only ones anyone found interesting.

I would love to see Apple response to this book and the claims in it (some of which could be from articles that didn't actually have all their facts supported either) but I know they won't because of their desire for secrecy in all things

Well just out of curiosity I googled some of the other execs for interviews, profiles, etc. and you don't find much outside of Jony Ive. Perhaps the odd interview with Phil Schiller after a product launch (or doing damage control - white iPhone, app store policy) and business week did do a profile on Scott Forstall, though they had done one on Ive several years earlier. Of course it could be as you suggest there's no real interest in any of the other execs. But it's clear from everything I've read over the years that the ID team at Apple has the most clout. Which jives with what Steve told Walter Isaacson about no one being able to tell Jony Ive what to do or to be quiet. Will be interesting to see how (if) that culture changes now that Steve isn't around.
post #33 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

I read part of it because a friend bought it and it read like it was just rehash. And not very well written rehash at that.

I would like to see him try to back up that last claim. Because I suspect that it wasn't really the way Adam claims. I don't think the issue was Jobs tolerance but simply that he and Ive were the only ones anyone found interesting.

I would love to see Apple response to this book and the claims in it (some of which could be from articles that didn't actually have all their facts supported either) but I know they won't because of their desire for secrecy in all things

I think a good example is that Apple Execs rarely participate on panels at industry events. VPs from HP, DELL, Google, Amazon, etc. are always sought after to participate. You almost never see anyone from Apple.
post #34 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

Well just out of curiosity I googled some of the other execs for interviews, profiles, etc. and you don't find much outside of Jony Ive. Perhaps the odd interview with Phil Schiller after a product launch (or doing damage control - white iPhone, app store policy) and business week did do a profile on Scott Forstall, though they had done one on Ive several years earlier. Of course it could be as you suggest there's no real interest in any of the other execs. But it's clear from everything I've read over the years that the ID team at Apple has the most clout. Which jives with what Steve told Walter Isaacson about no one being able to tell Jony Ive what to do or to be quiet. Will be interesting to see how (if) that culture changes now that Steve isn't around.

While the industrial design "team" at Apple has some autonomy, they are also shrouded by a cloak of anonymity. Can you name one other designer at Apple?

Ron Johnson and Peter Oppenheimer were the only execs I ever saw participating in industry events.
Ron spoke at some retail industry events and Peter at some financial industry events.
post #35 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by fishstick_kitty View Post

Well maybe Apple should change it's ways...oh wait...they're the most successful company of the last decade...nevermind

The ends justify the means?
post #36 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by stelligent View Post

I respectfully disagree. I'd argue there are significant leaks out of Cupertino. But most of them are carefully orchestrated and timed by Apple.

I agree. The only time you have seen Apple go apeshit over a leak were the two lost iPhones. Everything else is let go for everyone to drool over.
post #37 of 48
I am having a real hard time getting excited about this "revelation" from Lashinsky's book. First of all, why should I care? If the employee is being paid a typical salary for his skill and experience level to work on a project that never sees the light of day, intentional or not, then it is up to Apple to determine whether that is an effort that furthers the company goals. Apparently, they decided that it did. Bully for them. Didn't seem to hurt their corporate margins much.

The next thing to notice is that this item from Lashinsky's book seems to be getting the most attention. Apparently, there are no better conspiracies to unearth.

Putting these two observations together, my conclusion would be that the Lashinsky book doesn't really have any Earth-shattering revelations. Nothing to see here, and I'm moving on.


Thompson
post #38 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post

The ends justify the means?

Where is the harm, except for corporate margins (ha!) and/or those employees that proved to be either incompetent or in possession of loose lips?

Thompson
post #39 of 48
Please let the HDTV be one of these fake projects.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply
post #40 of 48
I think this is misunderstood. It is reasonable to tell engineers a fake story about how their REAL work will go into a real product.

For example, tell them this 5.5" interface will go into a giant underwater wristwatch. Then, 85% of their work is really the next iTouch GXL but the engineer does not know that. They did real work, but weren't fully informed about the marketing. That's only prudent.
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