Apple's Secretive Ways: Assigning Engineers to Fake Projects

Dave Courbanou

January 31, 2012

The next big Apple book is the tell-all exposé “Inside Apple,” in which author Adam Lashinsky gives a detailed account about the way Apple’s corporate and employee infrastructure works. In a recent interview with LinkedIn, Lashinsky unveiled some interesting tidbits about Apple, including its propensity for assigning engineers to fake projects …

A tip of the hat goes to Business Insider for bringing the interview into the digital limelight. According to an excerpt from Lashinsky’s book, newly recruited engineers “… are hired into so-called dummy positions, roles that aren’t explained in detail until after they join the company. The new hires have been welcomed but not yet indoctrinated and aren’t necessarily to be trusted with information as sensitive as their own mission.” What’s more, some of these employees realize they are working alongside employees who do know what they’re working on, but aren’t at liberty to discuss it.

During the Q&A session of Lashinsky’s LinkedIn interview, one individual — a former Apple employee — spoke to Lashinsky’s credit and explained that Apple’s process for hires are often rigorous, with Apple looking for a “homogenous” mentality. “A friend of mine who’s a senior engineer at Apple, he works on, or did work on, fake products, I’m sure for the first part of his career. And interviewed for 9 months. It’s intense,” the former employee said.

So what does that mean for the IT world and the channel, as a whole? Don’t believe everything you read or hear about Apple, but don’t underestimate Apple, either. I’d like to believe whatever Apple is building is groundbreaking and important enough for Apple to call for government-level secrecy. But more important, Apple has a penchant for not only maintaining secrecy, but also humiliating those who would otherwise look to join Apple just to leak information. It also means those who pass Apple’s test are likely to be intensely loyal and aligned to Apple’s core values.That kind of corporate culture is sure to build a team that takes its work personally, and thus, build an incredibly high-quality product.

If I were you, I’d be getting mighty excited about the iPad 3 and iPhone 5.

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