Former staffer: Apple currently averse to social apps, blogs

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A recently departed Apple senior software developer describes a corporate culture that largely overlooks social software and discourages even official blogging.



Best known as the primary architect of Apple's iChat instant messaging software, Jens Alfke explains that he has left the company after 19 years chiefly because it became increasingly difficult to develop social software in the Cupertino, Calif.-based firm's existing climate.



Beyond iChat, the developer notes that he could only persuade the company to implement RSS reading into Safari and the larger frameworks for Atom and RSS feeds in Mac OS X -- achievements which were less likely to repeat themselves after the October release of Mac OS X Leopard.



"There were some very promising prototypes of sexier things [than these], but I really can?t talk about those, other than to say that they were canceled," Alfke says. "I looked around after Leopard was finished, and didn?t see any place in the company where I could pursue my ideas. It would have meant evangelizing reluctant executives into sharing my vision."



Apple has generally been regarded as late to developing such software as a whole. The company launched its first blogging tool, iWeb, along with iLife 06 and added hooks for YouTube into the iPhone, iPod touch, and its iMovie video editing suite in 2007.



However, a separate issue is also said to be Apple's stance towards its engineers' own social content. Where Apple's initial culture frequently highlighted the talents of individual workers, the environment in recent years has frequently curbed the ability to share experiences -- particularly online.



The Mac maker rarely allows non-executives to present themselves as Apple employees in public and extends that policy to blogging. Even publicly available information is likely to face a challenge from a superior, Alfke says. While many blog anonymously, other firms often allow their employees to mention where they work and to discuss public projects. Some firms also go so far as to maintain official company blogs, such as Microsoft's Gamerscore Blog or smartphone maker Palm's official blog.



By contrast, Apple employees are often reluctant to write even after they leave, the software blogger explains.



"I think Apple?s policy on blogging is one of the least enlightened of major tech companies; Microsoft in particular is surprisingly open," Alfke writes. "[I'm] ather afraid of pressing the Publish button. I have been long-conditioned to avoid saying anything like the above in public."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 103
    crebcreb Posts: 276member
    No surprise here. Sites like this are starting to appear:



    http://www.proletar.com/
  • Reply 2 of 103
    wallywally Posts: 211member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    "Microsoft in particular is surprisingly open," Alfke writes.



    Yeah, thats because they have nothing to loose (in terms of product secrets etc.)
  • Reply 3 of 103
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,425member
    That's pathetic and pathological on Apple's part.
  • Reply 4 of 103
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,425member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Wally View Post


    Yeah, thats because they have nothing to loose (in terms of product secrets etc.)



    true but Apple spends a lot of time hyping up stuff that doesn't always appeal to the masses. Mac users don't want to be cordoned off ..only to talk to other Mac users. Apple's success didn't happen until they began to open up.
  • Reply 5 of 103
    s10s10 Posts: 107member
    99.999999999% of blogging is a waste of time anyway.

    Just like writing here is a waste of time MOST of the time...instead of being productive, let's blog about it!



    ...and for those who will reply with the obvious... here already my counter reply... "exactly".
  • Reply 6 of 103
    gustavgustav Posts: 827member
    This guy is just bitter because they didn't like his ideas.



    Apple's success is due in part to their secrecy. When your success is because you have better ideas than everyone else, you have to keep them secret until their release. If you allow your employees to blog all day, secrets are going to get out that are detrimental.



    If this guy thought for a second why Apple is able to wow everyone year after year, he wouldn't be complaining. He should go work for an open source company if he wants to divulge everything to the public.
  • Reply 7 of 103
    I always wondered why Apple didn't do something really surprising on the social part of the internet. Even after leopard i thought Apple was still in the works of something very unique to enter that market. If this guy is right I don't see no future for Apple anymore. If iChat and iWeb are the only things planned for us mac users that is a real shame;



    I do understand they don't want their staff blogging away all their secrets but Steve really should understand that he can't lock up users.



    I'm gonna put up my Apple sunglasses and start thinking Apple doesn't thrust this person and didn't give him any insight on the future of Apple.
  • Reply 8 of 103
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Is anybody really at all surprised by this? This has been written about and reported on for years. This is so not newsworthy.
  • Reply 9 of 103
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CREB View Post


    No surprise here. Sites like this are starting to appear:



    http://www.proletar.com/



    Well, this site (www.proletar.com) sure sounds like a bit of b-s, since they don't seem to know how to do arithmetic (or, are slow to update facts). Click on the seemingly low "2.3" score for Apple, and you see this:



    Overall rating\t 3.5

    Work Environment\t 3.0

    Job Security\t 2.0

    Recognition\t 4.0

    Work-Life Balance 3.0

    Career Development\t 5.0

    Salary & Benefits\t4.0



    Huh?



    I should add that 3.5 is not a bad score compared to what many of the other companies are getting (although, I did not check the details behind the other companies' numbers).



    (Apple seems to a good place to work if you want to progress in your career, care about salary & benefits, and want recognition. It sucks if you want work-life balance, job security, or an office with windows and plush carpeting. Big deal, if true).
  • Reply 10 of 103
    crebcreb Posts: 276member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    Well, this site (www.proletar.com) sure sounds like a bit of b-s, since they don't seem to know how to do arithmetic (or, are slow to update facts). Click on the seemingly low "2.3" score for Apple, and you see this:



    Overall rating\t 3.5

    Work Environment\t 3.0

    Job Security\t 2.0

    Recognition\t 4.0

    Work-Life Balance 3.0

    Career Development\t 5.0

    Salary & Benefits\t4.0



    Huh?



    I should add that 3.5 is not a bad score compared to what many of the other companies are getting (although, I did not check the details behind the other companies' numbers).



    (Apple seems to a good place to work if you want to progress in your career, care about salary & benefits, and want recognition. It sucks if you want work-life balance, job security, or an office with windows and plush carpeting. Big deal, if true).



    I didn't say it was accurate, I only stated that sites like these are starting to showup. Also, when I mentioned this link Apple was not listed; it is now, and it looks like there is one response. I do know one of the companies listed exceedingly well as I used to work for it. I will not mention the company, but the employee reviews are spot on. Also, I believe, that the rating is influenced by people voting whether they agree or disagreed with an employee's post.
  • Reply 11 of 103
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gustav View Post


    This guy is just bitter because they didn't like his ideas.



    Apple's success is due in part to their secrecy. When your success is because you have better ideas than everyone else, you have to keep them secret until their release. If you allow your employees to blog all day, secrets are going to get out that are detrimental.



    If this guy thought for a second why Apple is able to wow everyone year after year, he wouldn't be complaining. He should go work for an open source company if he wants to divulge everything to the public.



    I'm sure he'll be much happier at Microsoft.
  • Reply 12 of 103
    crebcreb Posts: 276member
    No need to lambast Jens Alfke as his nineteen years at Apple taught him something. Besides, this is critical information if you are a stock trader as this is what you need and should know. There are people behind product lines that makes the products. I have a feeling that Mr. Alfke shall do quite well in his life after Apple.
  • Reply 13 of 103
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CREB View Post


    I didn't say it was accurate, I only stated that sites like these are starting to showup.



    Meaning...... what?
  • Reply 14 of 103
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,951member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gustav View Post


    This guy is just bitter because they didn't like his ideas.



    And you're bitter that schmuck got a job at Apple and you didn't.
  • Reply 15 of 103
    Just because Microsoft and Palm blog is not a good reason to blog - both companies are hardly that good at what they do. Maybe if they spent their time on making products rather than blogging then their stuff wouldn't be so shit.



    Apple's ban on blogging is in tune with the rest of the company ethos and prevents a member of staff putting their foot in it.
  • Reply 16 of 103
    crebcreb Posts: 276member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    Meaning...... what?



    Are you an Apple employee or what? Read the post...it means what I stated: Sites like these are starting to appear. Employees are starting to state their views on their company, outside of the company. Don't you get it? Didn't you see the site? No, I am not affiliated with the site in any manner.
  • Reply 17 of 103
    mchumanmchuman Posts: 154member
    MS has an "enlightened" blogging policy because they literally have nothing to lose at this point. No secrets, no ideas...so hey, why not blog. Maybe a commenter will give them their next big idea.
  • Reply 18 of 103
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    I remember when Tog used to "blog" about interface design. Of course back then it was a newletter column printed on paper rather than bits.



    You know, as much as I like Apple products, I'd much rather have a job at MS Research. Or Almaden Research (IBM). Or maybe Google but I'm plain too old.



    It was a shame that Jobs disbanded the HIG. Every tech company needs an internal Xerox Parc like place and to fund the handful of researchers there was really just chump change for a company the size of Apple.
  • Reply 19 of 103
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,951member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CREB View Post


    Are you an Apple employee or what? Read the post...it means what I stated: Sites like these are starting to appear. Employees are starting to state their views on their company, outside of the company. Don't you get it? Didn't you see the site? No, I am not affiliated with the site in any manner.



    The site does not appear to do any effort to make sure that a person that posts an opinion actually worked there. I think that discredits the entire idea.
  • Reply 20 of 103
    foo2foo2 Posts: 1,077member
    Even greater restrictions are imposed on Federal workers. It makes sense to me. Why complain when you're part of the system and benefit from it?
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