Does Apple assign engineers to fake projects? Ars says no

But is it true? 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.

Because of Apple’s infamous secrecy, many legends and myths have popped up about the way they do business. Nice to see Jacqui at Ars poke some holes in this particular one.

  • They say it isn’t true but it wouldn’t shock me if it were. The “infamous secrecy” separates them from the rest of the tech world in an unprecedented and, if I may go as far to say, unfruitful way. Look at how some have changed the tech landscape after leaving (pull to refresh being a biggie). Think of what they could do under Apple’s guidance.

    How you can get hundreds of (potentially) naturally social people to be quiet is interesting.

    • kibbles

      are you suggesting apple’s product secrecy is unfruitful? by what metric? not sales. not profits. not consumer satisfaction surveys. so…by which metric has apple’s M.O. been unfruitful to them?

      • Oh no. I’m suggestion Apple’s secrecy keeps the developers/employees from communicating with the outside world so the tech industry doesn’t improve…just Apple.

        No metrics used here. Just look at the open source repos out there from developers pushing things like Rails, Twitter Bootstrap, etc that all came from employees at tech companies. Now imagine if those companies required employees not to share or be social.

        • kibbles

          I’m not aware of that level of policy at apple. can an employee not work on an unrelated side project on their own time?

          still, your argument sounds to be a stretch — that the world would be a better place if only apple employees could work on side projects (if this is untrue today).

          • I have no idea if they can work on side gigs but based on other stories of “forcing” people to work excruciating hours in crunch time…I doubt they could find the time.

            I have no argument here. Don’t look to the negative when I comment. It was purely discussion and my thoughts/desires on what I wish would happen.

            But…seeing as what they work on at work would probably be related to what they’d do in off hours…I doubt Apple would allow that. I believe a few Apple employees have apps (heard on an iMore podcast once, I think).

    • “How you can get hundreds of (potentially) naturally social people to be quiet is interesting.”

      How so? It’s done all the time in any number of fields. Apple is not unusual in its practice of secrecy.

    • Easy. You have them sign an employment contract that says if you shoot your mouth off about what you work on here, you’re freaking fired an your name in the business is mud.

      Happens in virtually every industry that has anything remotely close to intellectual property or trade secrets.

      • Eh…Apple is a bit of an exception here. Their secrecy is not even close to what others in the industry do.

        Compare Apple to how many of Apple’s competitors have employees you can find online.

        I’m not saying it is wrong just that I find it verrry interesting and wish it wasn’t the case.

  • Fake projects would be a waste of resources.

    • Bob


      IMO: most “leaks” come from foreign suppliers.

    • Tvaddic

      Yeah but Apple would rather waste trivial amounts of money, then hire someone that would reveal their next products, which could stop people from buying their current devices.

      • I think you’re projecting a little bit.

      • Yeah but…did you read the article? Your point is covered in it.

  • What about all these rumors of fake projects at The Loop? Fess up, Peter!

  • Working on a project that gets canned doesn’t qualify as a fake project.