A lot of urban myths have popped up around how Apple goes about designing its products and protecting its famous paranoid secrecy. Through mindless repetition, these unconfirmed facts tend to become kinda public knowledge, some of them so compelling we cannot help but believe those overly romanticized Apple stories without questioning them or even consider asking the subject of whom the rumor is about.
One journalist thought different and sought to apply a healthy dose of skepticism to one of the most popular myths – that Apple assigns engineers to fake projects. He set out to separate the wheat from the chaff by interviewing several former and current Apple engineers who – surprise, surprise – apparently have absolutely no knowledge of fake projects being a regular occurrence at Apple…
Blame that myth on Fortune editor Adam Lashinsky’s book titled “Inside Apple”.
In it, the author claimed several engineers were “hired into so-called dummy positions, roles that aren’t explained in detail until after they join the company” and cited an unnamed Apple engineer who said he wasn’t informed of what he would be working on until his first day on the job.
I was prompted to look into the question after several friends – Apple employees, no less – expressed disbelief at the claim. Their skepticism matched my own experience; in my years of reporting on Apple and speaking to many of its employees, I had never heard of such a practice.
When I sought answers by interviewing current and former Apple engineers, I found that “fake” projects are certainly not a regular occurrence at Apple—and they quite probably do not exist at all.
Even if it’s true that Apple doesn’t go to such lengths to waste resources on fake projects, the company is still experimenting with products that sometimes don’t see the light of day.
The monster Apple v. Samsung U.S. trial in August 2012 gave a rare glimpse into Apple’s design process. Testimony after testimony came various tidbits of how a handful of Apple’s designers gather around a kitchen table to dream up new products.
We’ve also seen some pretty crazy iPad designs, early iPhone prototypes and various other products that were eventually abandoned. Vague evidence even suggests Apple at some point was exploring a curved-glass design for the handset.
Did you believe (even for a second) there were fake projects going on at Apple?
Although these people say the myth isn’t true, it wouldn’t shock me if it were.