back to article You don't have to be mad to work at Apple but....

Former Apple employees have apparently told a podcast host that Cupertino is a brutal work camp run by monomaniac workaholics who would rather be in the office than out enjoying life. Don Melton and Nitin Ganatra were both senior staff in Apple's Cupertino headquarters but said they've since escaped to a happier existence. …

  1. smartypants

    Further efficiency gains ahead?

    "go to the bathroom or have a conversation with your family"

    Apple could improve efficiency further by requiring people to combine the two with their magical facetime tech.

    No need to actually go home at all to see the family in the flesh. No planet-choking (and time-wasting) commute... which means iPloyees can spend 24 hours a day in the new mothership being constructed.

    You'll never leave!

    1. bonkers

      Re: Further efficiency gains ahead?

      You don't have to be MAD to work at Apple

      but it HELPS!

      That's a really old one, I liked the variation on it:

      Spotted in the occupational therapy room in Broadmoor -

      You have to be MAD to work here...

      but it doesn't HELP!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Question is

      If they're putting in all that hard work, why are they still producing such crap?

      Phones 2 years behind the curve that bend and break if a person even looks at them wrong???

      Wtf are they all playing at??

      1. Naughtyhorse

        Re: Question is

        Building/spaceship full of sleep deprived people who are just waiting for their stock to vest producing less than iTastic designs.

        film @ 11

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Further efficiency gains ahead?

      Why do the bosses need to show up in the middle of the night? This is the 21rst century, they make the damn technology to do teleconferences, they make something called a damn phone that allows you to talk to the other people at other locations. Makes no sense.

      On the other hand, I heard they were making an "Itoilet" that combines a regular toilet with IOS, so you wont miss any time with family and friends via screentime. you can still be productive with a touch screen interface linked to their cloud (the time spent, the location, your poop color, how long it took, how many wipes, etc.....will ALL be integrated into their new Watch via that new medical interface they were talking about, loaded on the cloud, analyzed, stored, shared....)

      If you run out of toilet paper, you can ask Sirii where to get more, but I suspect she may respond "I'm sorry Dave, I cannot do that".

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Further efficiency gains ahead?

        >If you run out of toilet paper, you can ask Sirii where to get more, but I suspect she may respond "I'm sorry Dave, I cannot do that".

        You jest, but Siri's pre-Apple 'character' may well have given that response:

        Back then, Siri boasted an even more irreverent tone -- and a more robust set of skills. Like fiction writers dreaming up a character, Dag Kittlaus, Siri's co-founder and chief executive, and Harry Saddler, a design expert, had carefully crafted the assistant's attitude and backstory. It was to be "otherworldly," "vaguely aware of popular culture" and armed with a "dry wit," Kittlaus says.

        Ask it about gyms, and Siri sent back a mocking, “Yeah, your grip feels weak.” Ask, “What happened to HAL?” -- the brainy (and murderous) talking computer that starred in Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 thriller "2001: A Space Odyssey" -- and it delivered a sullen, “I don’t want to talk about it." In those days, Siri still had “fuck” in its lexicon.

        That was before Apple washed Siri’s mouth out with soap and curbed many of its talents, even as it endowed the assistant with new gifts.

    4. Oninoshiko

      Re: Further efficiency gains ahead?

      I was thinking you where going to suggest integrating a toilet with the desk... Although that might be a shitty idea...

  2. Nate Amsden Silver badge

    glad to stay away

    apple reaches out to me seems like 2-3 times a year to come work for them, never been interested. Never liked the idea of working for a big company.

    1. SuccessCase

      Re: glad to stay away

      I had Pizza for dinner. Just thought everyone would like to know that.

      1. John Bailey

        Re: glad to stay away

        "I had Pizza for dinner. Just thought everyone would like to know that."

        Thick or thin crust?

        1. elip

          Re: glad to stay away

          Why is it always one or the other? Has nobody heard of the Chicago-style deepdish?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: glad to stay away

      Turned a job down at apple twice as the money well below the market rate, infact I laughed at the recruiter and walked out of the interview when told the salary.

      1. fanboi #451 Silver badge

        Re: glad to stay away

        Really? Is that true?

        I ask since I worked at Apple for over 10 years from 1994 to 2004, at both the loop and stockley park and the one single thing that stood out from all the other benefits was that the money was absolutely fantastic. Just to provide an example, I went back to work last November on shutting down a legacy project in Cupertino at a daily rate of £800 plus all expenses paid, guaranteed for 6 weeks work.

        Agree that some of the management were dislocated from their staff but that was just a few guys, and one now rather infamous lady. Those types were paying far too much attention to what SJ was dropping down on them from on high to really give a damn about the staff beneath them and most of them were very quickly found out and 'promoted' to somewhere that their skills would be more appropriate.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: glad to stay away

      "Never liked the idea of working for a big company."

      You'll probably change your mind when you want some decent money. Apple might not pay well but the majority of big companies do - far better than some hipster startup. Sure, you might get lucky in a startup with share options and end up a m/billionaire, but for every person that happens to there are a thousand who can just about pay the rent. Its all very well spending the day sitting on bean bags and having fun playing pool - but at some point you're going to need a proper salary for a house/kid/car etc.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: glad to stay away

        And, if you are at work all day and most of the night and weekend, there is no chance to spend the salary anyway, reduced domestic bills, can manage with a smaller, cheaper place to "live" ....

        Win all around I should say.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: glad to stay away

      Cool story bro!

  3. SuccessCase

    Jasper, I don't think submitting a single review and awarding yourself five stars just before publishing the article counts really. You could at least bother to get the co-working sitting at the desk next to you to post another five star review.

    1. Metrognome

      Looks like your irony sensor is not yet functional. Have a coffee and retry.

      1. SuccessCase

        Well as I was playing along; Right back at you :)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Psycologists have discovered that if you are stressed at work, you are a more productive work unit.

    1. Amorous Cowherder

      Re: TO THE MAX!

      Stress can be a great motivator, it can get you really enthused and give you get-up-an-go. However, too much for too long, just like anything in life, and your brain quickly melts and next thing you're on gardening leave ( if you above middle management ) or out on your ear as a burned out basket case.

    2. John Tserkezis

      Re: TO THE MAX!

      "Psycologists have discovered that if you are stressed at work, you are a more productive work unit."

      And you're also more likely to either slash your wrists, or go on a shooting rampage. Neither of which are suitable outcomes, what's your point?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: TO THE MAX!

        Short periods of stress can be good, especially working up to a deadline. There is a sense of camaraderie and focus on delivering the project, even if people are going a little bit crazy. Once the project is delivered, there's a sense of elation and a chance to unwind, which fgeels all the sweeter because you feel you've earned it.

        However, being stressed for an indefinite period of time is not good.

  5. i like crisps


    Dear Apple, to increase productivity to the maximum why don't you hand out 'Piss Bottles & She Wees' to your staff thus ensuring that they never have to waste your valuable time, having to go to the toilet?

    1. Van

      Re: TOP TIPS

      They would still need a small amount of time to pick up the bottle and get their old man out. They should fit them with catheters piped directly to the sewer outside, via brushed Aluminium piping of course so people on the outside think it's cool.

      1. VinceH

        Re: TOP TIPS

        "They should fit them with catheters piped directly to the sewer outside, via brushed Aluminium piping of course so people on the outside think it's cool."

        That would be a missed opportunity.

        It should be piped into a delivery system, so they can sell it to the true Applytes: Genuine Apple Staff Urine - almost as good as Unicorn Dust.

        1. Naughtyhorse

          Re: TOP TIPS

          I would have thought apple would be world leaders at this sort of infrastructure, seems to me they have been taking the piss for decades now.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The same podcast?

    I listened to this a couple of days ago. Yes they worked hard, no surprise.

    The thing I took home was how much they hated their hard work being ripped off by samsung.

    How they agonised to make apps default to respond in "obvious" ways and then watch samsung copy their finished pinch to zoom or messaging functionality. They also speak highly of Scott Forstall (also in previous podcast). Seems like "his team" are still loyal. Makes me wonder if in 5y time, Johnny Ive and Tim Cook have called time, Scott might get a second bite?

    1. Adam Foxton

      Re: The same podcast?

      I hate to feed trolls, but pinch-to-zoom was demoed long before the iPhone was released... IIRC it even worked on some single-touch phones.

      What messaging functionality was copied? Texts predate the iPhone, as do emails and IM. And mobile video calling. All by a decade or more. Conversation views were done to death by the time it was released, the keyboard-with-a-magnifier/indicator thing had been done on phones before. You could get all the functionality of a modern iPhone- albeit a little slower- on a top-end smartphone from 2006, 2007ish.

      As with the mouse and... well, anything else technical they're known for, Apple just copied what was done before and shouted about how innovative they were. They are, however, good at making pretty things.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: The same podcast?

      Fucking pinch-to-zoom.

      I hate that shit.

      Google now has it on Android Maps, and removed the zoom buttons. Now instead of a single finger tap to zoom in, I have to put the phone down and carefully use two hands to zoom.

      Anything else (including the one-handed "unpinch") results in the map spinning around or tilting wildly and losing sight of what I wanted to zoom in on.

      When I find the asshole at Apple that invented it, I am going to cut one of his hands off.

      If I was that coordinated, I'd be a motorcycle racer, not a professional computer geek.

      1. smartypants

        Android maps pinch-to-zoom alternative

        I felt your pain...

        But you can use a single finger. Tap, then drag up or down to zoom in/out.

        Not very intuitive. (in fact, very 'apple'), but makes one-handed map zooming possible again without the beloved in/out buttons

      2. Naughtyhorse

        Re:Find the asshole...

        You will have a long and fruity search.

        The guy that invented pinch-to-zoom does not now, nor ever has worked for the fruity idea filcher. As is well documented here and elsewhere.

    3. danny_0x98

      Re: The same podcast?

      I also listened to the podcast and other episodes and other tech-related podcasts from iMore. There's great stuff there.

      I've listened to one and a couple of snippets of The Register's current tech podcast, and, well, I didn't get any thing out of it.

      Going back to the tech podcasts I do routinely listen to: guess what? Turns out everybody who ships something of merit has people who put in extraordinary hours or do extraordinary things. Creation isn't easy. (Even if somebody else already did pinch-to-zoom or filmed The Godfather Part II.)

      This wasn't creative, but three and four decades back, I'd have to pull late nights and all-nighters covering election results as a radio newsperson. Oh, the humanity! Oh the tragedy! Oh, so what? There was a job to do, I did it, I think I did it well, and when it came time to do something different, I left radio.

      I'm also thinking, if El Reg sensationalized and de-contextualized some quotes for amusement and attention, well, LOHAN warned us, no?

      Meanwhile — yes, I have been driven to this — haters gotta hate, I guess.

      P.S. A point I got out of the podcast is that the managers at the mothership working on the key projects did not expect more of their team than they expected of themselves. Melton and Ganatra were not complaining; they were proud that they could somewhat keep up with excellent leaders such as Forstall, who was described as one of the most prepared people the speaker had ever met, and Serlet. The podcast is one of many from the podcasters (Rene Ritchie, Guy English, and Dave Wiskus) that have built a fascinating look at a company in a time when it did the seemingly impossible, go from a failing entity with brand new blue, but under-powered, computers to a wildly profitable company that reset how people think about music players, mobile phones, and mobile computing.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    the people who design Apple products are unhappy, the people who make Apple products are unhappy and the people who buy Apple products are unhappy!

    So: unhappiness=sucess.........funny old world

    1. Amorous Cowherder

      Re: so


      Well it's worked out pretty well for most rock stars over the last 50 odd years!

  8. Sir_bobbyuk

    The Apple Tree senior managerment need a serious shake

    Treating staff likeTreating staff like dirt goes against everything i believe in. Having a dictatorial level of leadership that puts money above people, needs reality check. Treat your people with respect and pay them for the good work they do. dirt goes against everything i believe in. Having such a dictitor

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Apple Tree senior managerment need a serious shake

      This is the trend now. In the old days people would move to another company where they got treated better. There aren't any jobs now. In the tech sector so many are being replaced by H1B visa workers.

      The place where I work requires people to clock out to use the restroom. If you bring up an issue then you have an attitude problem and get written up. Yes the turnover is high but the company always has people who are desperate for a job at the door.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Apple Tree senior managerment need a serious shake

      "Having a dictatorial level of leadership that puts money above people, needs reality check"

      In some companies it is about money. But in Apple, certainly under Jobs it was about his product obsession. That's why the iPhone has always had that shineyness, and "just works" appeal. If you let the minions get on and do their job without micro-managing over-sight some of them will go for "good enough". That's how traditional corporates work, they don't innovate much, they maintain, they streamline, and life can be very comfortable for the minions (I speak as a comfortable corporate minion). But if you want excellence, you need obsession, and that obsession has to seek and destroy all areas that are adequate or just good enough.

      There's been a cultural discontinuity at Apple, from the product-centric Jobs, to the investor-centric Cook. Apple is now about money, but the corporate culture will take time to kick down a gear into being a normal corporate. We're seeing it already in the limited innovation and slow pipeline of Apple products, and the rather average iPhone 6 is the ghost of Christmas future. You don't make great products when you are answerable to investors. If you ignore investors you can produce great products, but you need the track record to do that (Jobs had, Cook hasn't), and you actually need to be great at making the products so that the financials follow the product.

      But nobody joined Apple for a good salary and generous pension scheme, and family friendly working hours, did they? I've no sympathy if iPloyees have to give up their very souls, because that's the operating model of the company they elected to join. They get the cachet of "working at Apple", they have a grade A employer to put on the CV/resume, and they have to accept that there's compromises to get that. If they don't like the culture, then (a) they shouldn't have joined, and (b) there's nothing genuinely stopping them handing their notice in and finding something that suits them better.

      Eventually Apple will be part of the comfortable corporate establishment, and other companies will be the thrusting innovators. Apple employees will then work only as hard as the average corporate, whilst the innovators come in at 7am and head home at 11pm, and tolerate a tyrannical boss because he inspires and terrifies in equal measure.

      1. Kristian Walsh

        Re: The Apple Tree senior managerment need a serious shake

        But nobody joined Apple for a good salary and generous pension scheme, and family friendly working hours, did they?

        I did. Apple was a good choice at the time (1996) because they had a really good set of additional, non-monetary benefits.. In the five and a half years I was there, each of these was eroded away, replaced with stock-option handcuffs that play on your greed to force you into more and more demeaning work just in the hope that you'll stay long enough for those options to vest. Steve closed our group before my own stock options could ever recover from the 90% fall in Apple's share price one evening in 2000, and I'd seen enough of Cupertino and the office culture there to never want to live there, so I declined to stay. (Not saying that the people weren't nice -- they were, it was just that all social activity seemed to revolve around going to the office. There was a group of guys who played poker regularly...but in the office!).

        Financially this was the biggest mistake I've ever made, but in terms of my mental (and physical) health, probably the best one.

        I won't tell other people's stories for them, but it does say something that nobody I worked with in Apple would ever go back there - and people I've met who worked there after my time describe exactly the "your life is Apple's" policy this article does.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @kristian Walsh

          Yes, the you did a great job, here is your bonus, you can get it in six months if you are still around seems to be the trend nowadays. I just got a letter from my CEO thanking me for the five years service at the company and I will get a $1000 bonus check next quarter. If I am still around.

  9. TitterYeNot


    Sounds like we have a new name for Apple's Cupertino campus - "Hotel California."

    You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave...

    1. The Corner of Moron

      Re: Eagles

      Either that or a massive sign saying "Welcome To Royston Vasey!"

  10. Semtex451

    "iParatchik" nice

  11. John H Woods

    No wonder they can't innovate ...

    Who gives a fsck that the execs are in the office at all hours? Firstly, they are compensated enormously and secondly their work is very different from creative or engineering functions. If work hours were linearly related to productivity, Apple should be absolutely wiping the floor with the competition. What is happening in all those extra hours at the office? My guess is that it's making most of their workers so tired that they are achieving even less in an average twelve to sixteen hour shift than they would in an normal eight hour day.

  12. Tim 11

    Thus it ever was

    Like it or not, most brilliant products (brilliant ideas even) come out of a relatively small number of often very intelligent and highly motivated individuals being completely obsessed with it and working their ass off to the exclusion of everything else. A larger team of people just "doing their 9-to-5" just doesn't seem to have the commitment and innovation required to push the boundaries.

    The challenge for us as a society is to reward and leverage these type of people so they can produce their best but still value those who want a more relaxed work/life balance, not to judge between the two.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thus it ever was

      You had me at "leverage".

      Here's a link to the Corporate Bullshit Generator site:

      Something tells me you'll get a lot of mileage out of it.

  13. jake Silver badge

    This is news?

    It's been that way since the year dot ... except the Pepsi years, of course.

    Burnout is high in that camp.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well duh, go and work for a small less well known company.

    The point is a big company is always going to be hard work and responsible, but after a while there you have a good company name on your CV and will be able to take a job pretty much anywhere.

  15. Frank N. Stein

    So, Apple is full of management workaholics who expect everyone else to be workaholics? That would make sense if they were actually innovating, rather than producing iPhones that are just now receiving screen sizes that Android had 3 years ago. I could see if Apple were producing iPhones and iPads with unusually high battery life and higher performance than the other platforms, but obviously, they are not. All that extra time in the office didn't amount to an iPhone that couldn't be bent by hand. So, apparently working long hours doesn't really equally higher productivity. It equals obsessive compulsive disorder. Not much more.

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