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

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
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."
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,287member
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 32
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,982member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 32


    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.

  • Reply 4 of 32
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    Using a graphic accompanying an Apple article sporting GreenPeace logos?

    Try again.
  • Reply 5 of 32

    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."

  • Reply 6 of 32


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

  • Reply 7 of 32
    quinneyquinney Posts: 2,524member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 32
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 32


    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?

  • Reply 10 of 32
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Are you talking about ThinkSecret?

    Yes. I thought it was that, but it didn't seem right for some reason.
  • Reply 11 of 32
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,287member

    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.

  • Reply 12 of 32

    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.

  • Reply 13 of 32
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,481member

    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.

  • Reply 14 of 32


    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.

  • Reply 15 of 32


    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. 

  • Reply 16 of 32
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,287member

    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.

  • Reply 17 of 32


    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…

  • Reply 18 of 32
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,287member

    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.

  • Reply 19 of 32
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    ...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.
  • Reply 20 of 32
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,287member

    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

Sign In or Register to comment.