Claims that Apple tests the trustworthiness of new employees by getting them to work on 'fake products' have been exposed as groundless.
Adam Lashinsky made the claim that workers were hired into "dummy positions" in his book 'Inside Apple: How America's Most Admired - and Secretive - Company Really Works', published in January last year. Author Lashinsky wrote that employees were: "Hired into so-called dummy positions, roles that aren't explained in detail until after they join the company." Lashinsky suggested that these "dummy positions" were assigned to new staff members in order to protect Apple's trade secrets.
This claim was then expanded into the "fake products" claim after Lashinsky spoke about the book (YouTube video here) and an audience member claimed to know someone who had worked on "fake products" at Apple for nine months before being put on something real.
However, Ars Technica reporter Jacqui Cheng spoke to her Apple sources and found the claim to be incorrect. The current and former Apple employees she spoke to said Apple wouldn't waste time on fake projects. One said: "I find it suspect that they'd ever waste their own and the employee's time on something that didn't directly contribute to their bottom line somehow."
Another noted that Apple staffers are bound by non-disclosure agreements: "Everything we work on, there's a new NDA for."
"If they did leak, they'd just get fired," said another. If a leak happens, the Ars report says the company will go "all Men in Black" in order to identify the source.
Ars sources described how they have witnessed "lockdowns" where a part of the floor or office is surrounded by security personnel - usually outside contractors with backgrounds in the military, CIA, or FBI.
During a lockdown employees have to remain in their offices while security visits each desk in order to copy data from computers and other devices. "The security team claims it can zero in on a leak almost instantly," claims the report.
This doesn't happen very often, "at most I feel like it'd be once every couple of years," according one employee, however, such an occurrence if usually enough to stop anyone else thinking of leaking something.
The report notes that the leaks often come from Apple's Asian supply chain rather than its Cupertino HQ.
According to the report, Lashinsky has now suggested that he "used poor phrasing" and really meant 'placeholder' positions or 'unspecified' projects. He told Ars: "I can see how 'dummy projects' was a poor choice of words on stage that day. The concept I was trying to describe might best be worded as 'placeholder' positions or 'unspecified' projects."