Love them or hate them, the people at Apple have found a way to make their products culturally relevant, extremely profitable and apparently worth waiting in long lines for. Each year a new iteration on an old product gets fans clamoring for upgrades, but what has to happen inside the Apple Campus in Cupertino to keep up a run like this? One Quora thread filled with insights from former Apple employees tries to answer that question.
The most popular response on the thread is from former employee Chad Little, who breaks down his experience with the internal culture at Apple. According to Little, “Apple is a pretty divided mix of typical corporate red tape and politics mixed in with startup-level urgency when the direction comes from Steve.” Anything that wasn’t a direct order from Steve Jobs might take months to complete, but if Jobs wanted it done, everyone would drop everything to make sure it was finished in a timely manner. This urgency was apparently there in all aspects of the company, from routine daily work to the unbridled excitement of a launch event.
As for the benefits of working at one of the biggest electronics companies on the planet, Little describes them as a little less than impressive. Employees had to pay for access to everything at the Apple Campus, from the food in the cafe to the gym. Underwhelming discounts on Apple products served as the perks.
Former program manager Simon Woodside and designer Justin Maxwell also chimed in to talk about the ever-present issue of security. Woodside recounts having to manage groups of developers while having to keep track of who was allowed to know what. Even his family was kept in the dark about unannounced projects. Maxwell verified Woodside’s stories by saying that security was more than a part of the job, “it was the job itself.”
“You are part of something much bigger than you,” he explained. “The ideas you talk about in the hall, the neat tricks you figured out in CSS, the new unibody machining technique, that’s part of your job, something you are paid to do for Apple’s success, not something you need to blog about to satisfy your ego. Don’t f*** it up for everyone.”
Several others have contributed their two cents about working in or with Apple, and the general consensus seems to be that the Apple Campus is an exceptionally tight ship, full of driven individuals who are held to very high standards to make the next thing that everyone is going to be talking about.