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Claims of Apple employees being tasked with "fake" projects debunked in new, extensive report

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Apple is a secretive company, closely guarding projects under development and occasionally placing leaking divisions "under lockdown," but it does not, according to a new report, assign new employees to "fake products" in order to gauge their trustworthiness as once reported.

Apple HQ
Apple's headquarters, pictured with a GreenPeace protest ad projected onto it.


Claims that Apple would test loyalty by putting new hires on fake projects arose with the publication of Adam Lashinsky's Inside Apple, which made mention of workers hired into "dummy positions," with their roles left undefined until they'd been with the company for some time. According to a new report out from Ars Technica, those workers aren't tasked with "fake products" meant to protect Apple's trade secrets; rather, they are likely working on any number of projects that never see the light of day for a myriad reasons.

Ars spoke with a number of former Apple employees, all of which expressed skepticism that a company as no-nonsense as Apple would waste its and its employees' time on fake projects. Besides, the employees explained, Apple staffers are frequently bound by non-disclosure agreements, the violation of which would leave them liable to termination or litigation.

The portrait of Apple's American operations that emerges from the report is one of a "containerized and siloed" organization, where employees know so little about what is going on in other departments that chatter amongst them is largely the same content one might see on publications like Ars and AppleInsider, which cover the company's ongoings on a regular basis.

When Apple does hear of leaks from a particular department, the report says the company is not above going into "lockdown" in order to identify a source. Former employees recount witnessing security personnel surrounding divisions and visiting each employees desk to grab data from computers and devices. The company is said to be able to pinpoint leaks "almost instantly," though it sometimes can take longer. Still, former employees maintain that leaks are uncommon in the company's United States operations.

iPhone parts
Purported iPhone 6 parts, said to have leaked from an overseas supplier.


Where Apple does apparently have a leak problem, though, is with its overseas suppliers. Apple observers are by now fairly familiar with the steady stream of leaks purporting to show iPhone components or to reveal specs of future devices. Apple's suppliers, the former employees say, are more willing to leak product details, since they have much less skin in the game.

"Clearly, the people who need the security training are not [in Cupertino]," said one former engineer. "They're not getting the same level of scrutiny as we are, and it shows."

The fake project rumors, the report concludes, are likely a misunderstanding of Lashinsky's original point in his book. Lashinsky himself says he likely used poor phrasing when talking on the issue.

"The concept I was trying to describe," the author told Ars, "might be best worded as 'placeholder' positions or 'unspecified' projects."

Another former Apple employee, speaking on record, also dismissed the idea.

"I never, in seven years there heard of anybody's time being intentionally wasted on a fake project," Daniel Jalkut wrote in a post on Twitter. "Canceled projects, sure."
post #2 of 33
Trust no one. Obviously a faked article about fake projects so that Apple employees are reassured their project isn't fake. How fake can it get.
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post #3 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Trust no one. Obviously a faked article about fake projects so that Apple employees are reassured their project isn't fake. How fake can it get.

Was this post faked? Maybe mine was, too.
post #4 of 33

Why not use a better image of Apple's HQ that doesn't have the stupid Greenpeace defacement?

 

I don't think that whether the projects were real or fake is an issue. Whether the work being done was productive is far more important.

 

Say Apple's looking to build a better Finder. But they don't want that leaking out. So the new guys working to build a better Finder believe they're building a better iPhoto file system. If that leaks out, Apple knows who did it. And when it's done, it's given over to the primary OS team and the best aspects are used.

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.

 

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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.

 

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post #5 of 33
Using a graphic accompanying an Apple article sporting GreenPeace logos?

Try again.
post #6 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Trust no one. Obviously a faked article about fake projects so that Apple employees are reassured their project isn't fake. How fake can it get.

 

 

Sure. And suddenly, I am proud of having the same level of information as an Apple employee !!

 

"....employees know so little about what is going on in other departments that chatter amongst them is largely the same content one might see on publications like Ars and AppleInsider, which cover the company's ongoings on a regular basis."

post #7 of 33

I get a kick out of the conspiracy theoryitis that affects so many people. 

post #8 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Trust no one. Obviously a faked article about fake projects so that Apple employees are reassured their project isn't fake. How fake can it get.

As fake as astroturf.
post #9 of 33
I'd say Asteroid project is one "product" that says otherwise. I've even forgotten the rumor blog that more or less got shut down as a result.
post #10 of 33
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post
I'd say Asteroid project is one "product" that says otherwise. I've even forgotten the rumor blog that more or less got shut down as a result.

 

Are you talking about ThinkSecret?

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 #11 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Are you talking about ThinkSecret?

Yes. I thought it was that, but it didn't seem right for some reason.
post #12 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Are you talking about ThinkSecret?

http://www.wired.com/business/2007/12/apple-and-think/

 

For those not familiar with ThinkSecret.

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post #13 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Why not use a better image of Apple's HQ that doesn't have the stupid Greenpeace defacement?

 

 

Time to call in the French to deal with them.

Author of The Fuel Injection Bible

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post #14 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I'd say Asteroid project is one "product" that says otherwise. I've even forgotten the rumor blog that more or less got shut down as a result.

I personally still believe Apple created vaporware slideware just for this purpose to root out the leaks. I would not put it past Apple and Steve for a single minute.

post #15 of 33

Ars Technica is a great blog and Jacquie Cheng has been the Apple person over there for a long time. She may be wrong, but I wouldn't dismiss her so lightly.

2011 Macbook Pro, 2012 Macbook Air, iPhone 5, iPad 4

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post #16 of 33
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
I personally still believe Apple created vaporware slideware just for this purpose to root out the leaks.

 

I definitely buy the idea of vaporware concepts leaked for this purpose. 

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 #17 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

I definitely buy the idea of vaporware concepts leaked for this purpose. 

Do you have any instances to point out where Apple has done that? Curious how common it is, if it happens at all.

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post #18 of 33
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post
Do you have any instances to point out where Apple has done that? Curious how common it is, if it happens at all.

 

Gosh, I'm trying to think… I'll look it up. Been so many claims over the years of products that never existed.

 

EDIT: Oh, well, here's proof. Not an individual product, but…


Edited by Tallest Skil - 2/15/13 at 12:33pm

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 #19 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Gosh, I'm trying to think… I'll look it up. Been so many claims over the years of products that never existed.

...you mean emanating from Apple? I wasn't aware Apple had ever been shown to put out "fake product" leaks.

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post #20 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

...you mean emanating from Apple? I wasn't aware Apple had ever been shown to put out "fake product" leaks.

Asteroid project was supposedly one used to smoke out a leaker. That's what I gathered with the ThinkSecret debacle.
post #21 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


Asteroid project was supposedly one used to smoke out a leaker. That's what I gathered with the ThinkSecret debacle.

I saw you mentioned that earlier, but so far I haven't been able to find any verification from Apple that the project was a fake. Where did you see that it was a "plant" to snag ThinkSecret?

 

EDIT: I see AI had an article on "Asteroid" back in 2005. Nothing in it or the comments indicates it was a fake.

http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/51724/apple-confirms-asteroid-project-with-garageband-distribution

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post #22 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Gosh, I'm trying to think… I'll look it up. Been so many claims over the years of products that never existed.

 

EDIT: Oh, well, here's proof. Not an individual product, but…

Thanks TS. Like you said not exactly a fake product, but still indicates Apple isn't above floating an inaccurate statement to guage feedback or whatever. 

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post #23 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

I saw you mentioned that earlier, but so far I haven't been able to find any verification from Apple that the project was a fake. Where did you see that it was a "plant" to snag ThinkSecret?

EDIT: I see AI had an article on "Asteroid" back in 2005. Nothing in it or the comments indicates it was a fake.
http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/51724/apple-confirms-asteroid-project-with-garageband-distribution

Maybe not proof, but this covers the story in retrospective:
http://lowendmac.com/rumormill/06/0609.html
post #24 of 33

Usually deceptive people do not admit "I am right now deceiving you."  Instead, they claim that they are not being deceptive.  That is actually a necessary part of the deception.

post #25 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


Maybe not proof, but this covers the story in retrospective:
http://lowendmac.com/rumormill/06/0609.html

Thanks for the link Jeff. 

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post #26 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Thanks for the link Jeff. 


Wow...reading this thread was eye opening...I did not think Apple would go to that extent to sort out leaks like that. I always wondered what happened to Think Secret!

Tallest Skil:


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"The future is Apple, Google, and a third company that hasn't yet been created."


 


 

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Tallest Skil:


"Eventually Google will have their Afghanistan with Oracle and collapse"

"The future is Apple, Google, and a third company that hasn't yet been created."


 


 

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post #27 of 33

There is so much doubletalk ... who am I supposed to believe?

 

Maybe the whole company is fake. Am I going to wake up tomorrow to the real world where only rotary phones exist?

post #28 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by bwik View Post

Usually deceptive people do not admit "I am right now deceiving you."  Instead, they claim that they are not being deceptive.  That is actually a necessary part of the deception.

True, but that assumes this discussion isn't about the acknowledgement/admission couldn't come later, long after the deception has done its job.
Edited by JeffDM - 2/16/13 at 7:05am
post #29 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by bwik View Post

Usually deceptive people do not admit "I am right now deceiving you."  Instead, they claim that they are not being deceptive.  That is actually a necessary part of the deception.

Everything I ever write is a lie, including this statement..
post #30 of 33

I don't believe most of this stuff especially from people who don't have insider information like Adam Lashinsky.  Leander Kahney has a new book on Jony Ive coming out later this year and he was able to get interviews with current and former Apple employees.  Two interesting things he noted was conflicting information and many suggesting the stories around products were BS and more marketing than anything else.  Definitely gave the iimpression that the notion all products were dreamed up by Steve was absolutely not true.  Kahney made a point of saying Walter Isaacson's book was from Steve's point of view (and therefore is biased).  Should be an interesting read.  And probably more inside information than we've got in the past.

post #31 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Napoleon_PhoneApart View Post

I get a kick out of the conspiracy theoryitis that affects so many people. 

 

That's one reason to hang around these forums...

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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post #32 of 33
So they are not on fake projects but rather on chimerical/highly prospective projects, that's fine with me. Now all those intrusive security claims in the US sound rather hypocritical when in the end the "leaks" are publicly made by Foxconn CEO.
post #33 of 33

"Fake, fake, fake, fake." —Elaine Benes

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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