Is Apple unable to dream up a killer new product because it no longer attracts young talent?


Got some engineering work under your belt and eyeing a job at Apple? The Guardian has a rather acerbic article that could make you reconsider depositing that CV to One Infinite Loop, Cupertino. The media got in touch with developer James Knight, a 27-year old ex-Google coder, who described the Apple "culture" as "negative, strict, and harsh", and the work environment as "very hostile". "You're gonna be working 60-80 hours a week and some VP will come yell at you at any moment." - said Knight.

"Several" Silicon Valley recruiters seem to share the coder's sentiment in what's explained as a trend that has been blooming slowly for years and has now manifested amidst the latest tech boom. In the past, Apple was revered in the Bay area tech circles, as career-minded specialists were careful not to tarnish any possibility of landing a job at One Infinite Loop. But right now, the mood appears to be shifting towards dismissing the very same opportunity as dodging a bullet. Programmers in the job market openly talk of issues such as "high-stress culture" and "cult of secrecy", which goes against office tendencies of gentler management and "playful" workdays.

Moreover, Apple still doesn't serve free food or offer much in the way of benefits, which is notorious at the very least, and downright shocking for the kind of high-prized, perk-accustomed engineering talent that the company wants to attract. Thus, recruiters claim that Apple is no longer attractive for "top young talent", which now eyes the likes of Facebook, Alphabet, Uber and Airbnb. Ambitious programmers and designers, the kind of employees who sign a contract to dream up the next big thing, are put off by what seems like a "confusing and rigid culture" bearing "a lot of secrecy, a lot of control".

Also, engineers no longer look "to work for Apple", but rather towards "big problems" on the cutting edge of technology, ones that will challenge them creatively and put them at the center. And even though Apple is tackling self-driving car and artificial intelligence projects, it hasn't produced a truly novel product in a while. Its last major release, the Apple Watch, did not become a "must-have" among users, even though it is the best-selling smartwatch right now. Meanwhile, iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks are no longer considered groundbreaking products, just ones undergoing refinement.

Although Apple is the world's largest corporation, more stable than venture-backed companies like Uber and Airbnb, and pays its employees well, it may have to consider relaxing the reins in addition to brainstorming a killer new product. But the latter can't happen without fresh-minded talent, and at present, the iPhone maker seems to be off the radars of disruptive programmers who value flexibility and lifestyle perks over security and a big salary.

Then again, The Guardian's report is only indicative of a trend. For all these recruiters who claim Apple has lost its appeal, there could be just as many claiming the opposite. For all the young coders who'd rather get a job at Uber, there might be just as many who'd give anything to work on the new iPhone. But where there's smoke, there's surely fire. Meanwhile, Apple hasn't reflected upon the publication.

source: The Guardian

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