Apple Makes New Employees Work On Fake Products Until Apple Can Trust Them

In Adam Lashinsky's book, Inside Apple, he examines how brutally insane and awful it is to work at Apple. Turns out having plainclothes spies and murky job descriptions isn't enough, because Apple sometimes makes its new employees work on fake products until they prove themselves trustworthy.


Anyway, I guess the idea is that if said fake products leak out, Apple will know who the leaker is and oust them immediately from its overzealous throngs. A former Apple engineer for six years confirmed Lashinsky's report that Apple engineers work on fake products in mysterious jobs by saying this:

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.

Can you imagine? A senior engineer, one who is probably well qualified for doing a solid job, has to diddle in work that will never come close to existing because Apple doesn't trust people. And yes, secrecy has helped build the allure of the company and its products but come on. Testing out employees in a trial run is par for the course, making real people do real work on fake products for a part of their career is just silly.

Oh and a nine-month interview process! You could have the babies before you know if you got a job at Apple. With all this crap to deal with, Lashinsky says the secret to success at Infinite Loop is to check your own ego at the door and embrace Apple's egomania x1000000. [Business Insider]

Original photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty



    They should just install a couple of those memory erasers from Men In Black at the exits.

    The plus side to that is that every day, you're working on a new product!

    If it's true, I think that's genius. Trust has to be earned, you do this by giving someone a small 'asset,' (in this case, secrets) and then work up to something when their trust is proven. If this means having staff keep non-secrets, or work on non-products, then so be it. It probably makes good financial sense to do this, zero risk to the company's intellectual property, just the costs associated with staff.

      You don't think anyone is smart enough to keep their heads down for a few years before they kiss and tell?

        No, I don't think anyone is DUMB enough to waste years just do this. What's the reward for 'kiss and tell..?' aaahhh...losing your job, being sued...hmmm...

          If there was no reward in kiss and telling why do you think Apple has this policy in place?

            Yeah, but by the time you're in far enough to ACTUALLY do it, it's probably not quite as worth it anymore because you've just wasted a years getting that far.

      Also as an engineer I would pride myself on those things I helped construct and it would piss me off no end to discover that my intense work of the last year was, knowingly, for naught.

        That might be the case, however the company's success isn't measured in the amount of retrospective satisfaction their engineers experience. I guess you've never been p*ssed off in a job before, lucky you, for most of us, its a, you know, fact of life. People work to do a job as outlined by their employer, they do it under agreed conditions, including protection of assets (designs, intellectual property, product and marketing info, etc). Sometimes, this makes it difficult for employees to live with themselves, that's why freedom of choice is such a good thing. Stay quiet, stay employed. Talk, and be unemployed. If a staff member doesn't like this, they can choose not to work there, or leave, and go work for a company where they loooove their staff to leak valuable info into the market, costing the business millions and hurting all the other staff and shareholders. For example,...wait...wait... nope, can't think of one. No one believes everything they do at work is perfect, 100% successful, and is an immortal unchanging success. So if someone spends some time working on non-products, so what? Isn't that what all of Apple's competition do all day already anyway? At least this proves the engineer's worth to the company in terms of trust.

          Perhaps you don't have a mortgage to repay or a family to support. To say one can choose not to work is disingenuous.

          One thing many of us have is pride in our work. Which is the product of a tertiary education, studying to join professional organisations, attending conferences, interacting with our peers... and to have that made a mockery of is unforgivable.

          Loyalty is a two-way street.

          A company should have a duty to its employees, its shareholders, the community, and to the environment. To choose the shareholders above all else is bad/wrong/evil.

            A company's duty is also to its customers.

    Wow, surprise. Apple is an evil company. Alert the media.

      Alert the consumers, the media is well aware of this.

        Alert the fanbois, they're the only ones who aren't aware of this.

    Oh, yes, they're so evil. Of course, they FORCE people to work for them. Round them up off the street, and they don't pay them, and keep them locked up in dungeons.

    God, come back to reality people. They can conduct their business however they like. If an employee doesn't like it, they can quit.

    If working for Apple sounds as bad as it is, why then do they still have plenty of employees working for them churning out products year in your out that people queue and create riots for?

      Probably because they've signed a non disclosure and other documents that stop them from working in other similar companies. So they're kinda stuck there!

        agreed, i work in a data mining company, and i have to sign an aggrement that said i'm unable to work in a competitior nor client company for 2 years after leaving.

        and some people in my office worked for 10+ years because its hard to find another job within the industry with that kind of restricting clause

          If you are in australia that is restraint of trade. Legal, but the company has to pay your wages for those two years or the agreement is null and void.

            That would only work if they sacked you, not if you left!

              I think you need to read up on the relevant case law. You will find that you may be in error.

              Not true. If it's part of the employee agreement then that agreement is void as soon as employment it terminated by either party. So yeah, they can put it in the employment agreement, but as soon as you stop working for them you can do whatever you want.

          Restraint of trade is easy to get around - I've changed jobs, I'm now the the tea lady at our competitor and don't program anymore. Plus in reality, a company can NEVER prevent one from gaining employed, whether you left or were fired. Those are contractual scare tactics that won't stand up easily in court.

    And yet they can't run over to work for google.

    Bloody hell have they even heard of 1984?

      lol yes, i think APPLE has heard of 1984, remember their commercial about it?

    "How to fit in..."
    This video is no longer avaiable due to a copyright claim by LinkedIn.


    How would one tell a fake product from one that apple just does not release? Apple tries out LOTS of stuff that never makes it to sale, particually in the Jobs era where he could be quite brutal about "awesomeness". I suspect there is some internal myth making at work here, a bit like Gates doing random code reviews at microsoft.

    Who cares? As long as your getting paid. I've heard stories about a certain ISP in Australia that hordes CCIE certified network guys so they can get partnership discounts from Cisco

    I'm sure there'd be some learnings they'd get from development of these 'fake' products which could be applied to 'real' products later on down the line - it wouldn't be all work wasted.

    My friend works at an Apple store he had to go through 5 interviews to get the job. They are all about getting only certain people, brainwashing from the bottom up.

    He absolutely loves his job.

      Five interviews to work in Retail? You would have to be a fanboy.

    No wonder they have to employ Foxconn to get their work done.. now I udnerstand what they were talking about when they said it would take too long to train up their workforce within USA.

    After reading this delightful story of corporate life, two quite unassociated words popped into my head out of nowhere,....they were sea and org. Don't know why they should, though. Can any-one enlighten a poor ignorant soul as to why these words came to me?

    2011 to 2012 Work with Apple on a fake prototype!

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now