Inside Apple: New hires work on pretend Apple products until they can be trusted

“Apple’s penchant for secrecy sometimes sees new engineers tasked with working on decoy products for a lengthy period of time while management vets their trustworthiness,” Katie Marsal reports for AppleInsider.

“The revelation was widely disclosed in Adam Lashinsky’s new book Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired — and Secretive — Company Really Works and further corroborated by a former Apple engineer during the author’s appearance at LinkedIn last week,” Marsal reports. “‘A friend of mine who’s a senior engineer, he works on — or did work on — fake products I’m sure for the first part of his career, and interviewed for 9 months,’ the employee said. ‘It’s intense.'”

Read more in the full article, with video, here.

MacDailyNews Take: So, until you can be trusted at Apple Inc., it’s exactly like working at Samsung.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Lava_Head_UK” for the heads up.]

Related article:
Inside Apple: What it’s really like to work at Apple and how its secretive behavior pays off – January 18, 2012


  1. So you can gauge your “untrustworthiness” appearance by how long they have you working on fake products. I wonder how long they had Mark Papermaster working on fake products? Maybe he thought the iPhone 4 antenna was a fake product?

    1. Then again, Apple is ALWAYS researching to develop new products. Many of these efforts will not be released. Does that make them “fake projects”? Even when upper management thinks they know how things should work, they might want to see alternatives, more “fake projects”. Since release of the project is unlikely, any security leak is of minor importance to Apple. It will definitely be a career limiting move (CLM ) for the engineer involved.

      1. Exactly. I doubt these products are truly “fake”, more like low-priority projects with a very low chance of being released, thus low risk if they get exposed. But if the people working on a project surprise management, there’s no reason one of these products couldn’t move from “fake” to “very real” overnight.


  2. This story is utter tripe. Apple doesn’t have the time to waste on nonsense like this, they have a product pipeline that demands all the attention of the engineers they’re able to recruit.


  3. Did Adam Lashinsky write for the grocery store tabloids before he published this book? This smacks of articles about “Bat Boy” sightings and people “married to Big Foot.”

    1. Hey! Not so fast, Hankster! My wife was married to Big Foot for four years. She got a divorce in 2001 and I adopted Little Foot as my own. Big Foot still drops by once in a while, despite the restraining order.

  4. I’m calling bullshit on this headline. While duties often require working on an aspect of a product without knowing what it will look like, no one is working on something that is never expected to ship unless it’s experimental. This is how it works at companies that don’t announce their products before they exist.

  5. Maybe Apple employees told the author of the book this story to see if he could be trusted.

    This story could have the germ of truth, maybe one guy who worked on a decoy project, but I’m sure the real Apple insiders are laughing at this one. It’s a waste of time and money, and poisons the working relationship.

    It’s like going to work for Pixar, then helping develop a movie, only to learn later they wasted your talents with a phony movie because they didn’t trust you. Life is too short for that nonsense.

  6. It has been my view for over 6 years that Aaple’s core competence is HR management. Steve didn’t suffer fools gladly his HR guru knew she had to create a recruiting structure that didn’t fail. Nothing else can explain the success: recruit people who “get it” now or will “get it” in short order. Their hiring is really really tough.

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