Blog Post

Apple Lockdown: Fact or Fiction?

UPDATED: I apologize for anyone offended by the initial headline. If you’ll read the Gizmodo article referenced in the first paragraph you’ll see where this headline came from. This article is a response to the absurdity of Gizmodo’s article that implies that Apple uses Nazi-like tactics. We unequivocally disagree with what Gizmodo is implying or its references to Nazi/Gestapo tactics. Again, please do read the Gizmodo article first to put this in context.

Breaking Godwin’s Law at a sub-atomic level, incendiary Gizmodo cites an anonymous source describing how security finds leakers at Apple (s aapl), not to mention creating a pervasive atmosphere of fear and dread, referencing “Nazi” tactics by the “Gestapo.” That is, if you believe it.

Reading like something by Fake Steve Jobs—only not nearly as entertaining—Jesus Diaz relays the experience of “Tom,” a supposed current or former employee of Apple. Tom alleges that Apple has “moles,” or informants, “working everywhere, especially in departments where leaks are suspected.” When a leak is strongly suspected, members of the Team Apple World Police “Apple Worldwide Loyalty” arrive and an “operation” takes place.

What’s described is effectively a lockdown. Employees are forced to remain at their desks. Their cellphones are collected, and anyone needing to contact the outside is monitored. Interviews are done. NDAs are signed. If security finds the suspected leaker, and “they usually do,” the person is fired after questioning. Of the questioning itself, “Tom” has no first-hand experience.

“There is a lot that goes behind doors that I don’t really know about. I do know, however, that they really interrogate people that are serious suspects, intimidating them by threatening to sue.”

Setting aside logical inconsistencies in the article like cameras being forbidden at Apple yet every employee having an iPhone, and legal questions such as confiscating personal cell phones, “Tom” asserts this type of corporate behavior is common at Apple. With 35,000 employees, it seems difficult to imagine that were such invasive tactics the norm, that it could be kept a secret, or at least made public by more than one guy through e-mail.

Looking at comments about Apple at, a website where employees can rate their employers, there’s not a lot of Nazi analogies…though from reading Gizmodo’s article you’d certainly think there should be. There are negative comments, but in aggregate the opinion is positive. In a recent survey, Apple scored 3.9 out of 5.0 for fifth place in the top 10 tech companies to work for. As CEO, Steve Jobs had an approval rating of 91 percent, highest on the list. In contrast, Dell was rated lowest among tech companies with a score of 2.8, while CEO Michael Dell’s approval rating was 28 percent.

If you are waiting for some purple prose about working Dell tech support hell in some warehouse outside of Mumbai, you’ll probably be disappointed. There’s no fame or fortune in stating the obvious.

27 Responses to “Apple Lockdown: Fact or Fiction?”

  1. In my experience, most companies treat their staff pretty well. Apple must treat their staff very well because the grapevine is ultra positive, they are rated v high as an employer and the queue of people wanting to work there would reduce worldwide unemployment by about 1% if they could all get the jobs they want. So go figure. Jesus Diaz has to be renamed Richard HeadPantsonFire. Anyone who disseminates his brand of bullshit is a simple hit-whore who knows no better.

  2. Stopped reading Gizmodo a long time ago. Some of my fellow bloggers read it – we rarely use it as a reliable resource for anything other than press releases with the photos posted large enough size for re-use.

    Their opinion/research pieces are sophomoric and irrelevant to hi-tech business. More psychologizing than sensible.

  3. For those of you who don’t get it, using the term Nazis was most likely a deliberate exaggeration on the part of the author. I don’t understand how people can defend actions like this, from any company. Why do so many people seem to be ok with allowing corporations to erode at our freedoms? Sure, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to work there, but how long until all companies treat their employees this way? If or when this happens, what will our choices be then? Accept it or go hungry and homeless?

  4. Any company that innovates consistently and superbly well into a highly competitive market has to be ultra-secretive. And even a daring leakball has to acknowledge that. Even senior people at Apple acknowledge that and openly go on to explain why this is necessary. Apple is the leading innovator in the world. Apple is the most copied org in the world. In order to survive in their markets; in order to even earn the rightfully deserved profits from their innovation investments, secrecy is paramount. There are thousands of competitors who would pay well for advance information on some new development to come from Apple. Such advance info buys these grubbers (the opposite of innovators) the time to produce copies to launch while the hype (which belongs to Apple after all) is at max strength. These grubbers can even sometimes beat Apple to an announcement, and even stage a competitive launch with a poor copy which will sell to bozos nevertheless.
    More importantly, leaked information will dilute the impact of Apple’s own announcements into that space, creating an anti-climax instead of the surprise and delight that Apple owns the right to after all their investment efforts. Instead there may only be the disappoint of not exceeding the leaked expectations. A delightful surprise can turn into a deadly yawn.
    If an employee seeks to break simple, deserved, good faith with Apple as his employer, and to leak highly sensitive new product information, it is a breach of contract, a breach of NDA terms and a breach of plain decent loyalty. Thousands of jobs depend on the continued success of an enterprise like Apple. Thousands of mortgages are paid on time each month because of that dependable paycheck which arises from continued success. There is so much riding on keeping product details secret until it is time to announce them, that to break that needed secrecy out of disloyalty, for revenge or for personal undeserved gain, is just plain wrong. It shows a callous disregard for deserved corporate success, it condones the stealing of other people’s rights over their ideas and property, it exposes companies like Apple to loss of success, potential failure and places the jobs of good, imaginative, hard-working people at risk.
    Castrate the bastards.
    Shoot even the wannabe-ubercool bloggers like Gruber and Diaz, who don’t know any better and who will lie shamelessly or, worse still expose anyone’s confidential intellectual property for a few hits just so he can pretend that ‘Gruba coulda beena contenda’, or that ‘Jesus lives’.
    These are loser-whores who just want to be noticed and they will spill the beans on their mothers for a single hit. Without such tactics, they have little of any originality to contribute and their followers are just too dumb to see the difference.
    On second thoughts – no need to castrate such bozos. They don’t have balls. Daring Fire..s anyone?

  5. “What’s described is effectively a lockdown. Employees are forced to remain at their desks. Their cellphones are collected, and anyone needing to contact the outside is monitored. Interviews are done. NDAs are signed. If security finds the suspected leaker, and “they usually do,” the person is fired after questioning. Of the questioning itself, “Tom” has no first-hand experience.”

    How reminiscent of the Third Reich. Thanks to Diaz’ asininity, Gizmodo is no longer bookmarked on my iPhone.

  6. andelsboligtilsalg

    Jesus at Gizmodo is a complete deuchebag. I cant believe that they actually hired him, and even worse allows him to write up fictional stories over and over again. But a fictional story is better than nothing i guess.

  7. The Nazi analogies seem to be trendy recently… it’s completely stupid, at all levels. I thought Nazis were more into killing people. Is that those dummies at gizmodo are implying? That Apple is actually summarily killing/executing its employees?

    Some people are absolutely clueless when it comes to knowing history…

  8. So with recent incidents like the little “exchange” of information between Fake Steve Jobs and John Gruber (Daring Fireball) where, the day before a launch, Gruber named pretty much EVERY PRODUCT that Apple released the next day, might make some folks at Apple try to discover who is leaking the information?

    Certainly, given that Apple appears to value secrecy, I can seem them trying to discover who was doing it. Maybe “Tom” was leaking the information, or worked in the department where people were known to be leaking it from? I don’t know, but I sorta doubt it’s like something from Indiana Jones.

  9. The problem with the title has nothing to do with context. You don’t know the context when you’re scrolling through your twitter feed and see @theappleblog just tweeted “Is Apple run by Nazis?”. It was definitely a bad call for this article to go out using that title. Fair enough, reference the related third-party article making citations in the post… but the title makes it sound (until you actually bother to read the post) as if this is @theappleblog’s opinion, and also as if @theappleblog is happy to promote nazism.

    Bad call… the URL and title should be changed and that tweet should be deleted and re-tweeted.

    • Chris, there are two alternative points to consider. First, the question mark implies more than one possibility. More importantly, shouldn’t the content of an article be determined from reading the article itself, rather than just the title? If not, doesn’t that lead us inevitably down a road of more and more simplification, and what happens to ideas that don’t fit into 140 characters?

      Out of curiosity, would the title “Apple is NOT Run by Nazis” be okay with you?

  10. The most egregious thing about Gizmodo’s “article” is that they imply that the Apple “Gestapo” just randomly arrives and searches everyone’s locker, desk, and cell phone. They go on at great length about how bad it was in Nazi Germany in that these people had the power to come into your home at any time and for no stated reason, then they immediately leap to the description of the “lockdown” at Apple. This is purposely misleading to say the least.

    Even if the lockdown description was true, (which I seriously doubt), if such an event happened in response to an actual leak that was known to come from a certain office, then it’s not only completely defensible, it’s a fairly standard thing (sans the emotional colouring). Perfectly normal police operations precede like this every day, as do perfectly normal and acceptable security “events” in many major corporations. The only thing that makes this seem Nazi-like is the (completely unsupported) implication by Gizmodo, that this sort of thing is random, can happen without cause and without reason, and is typical or normal behaviour at Apple.

    I know for a fact this just isn’t true. This is yet another purposefully misleading article from the “kids” at Gizmodo just to get hits on their pathetic little web-site. From the email exchanges I have had with them, I would say that both Jesus and Brian are total childish a-holes who wouldn’t know journalism if it bit them in the ass.

  11. wow. you people really need a thicker skin. it’s not like because of the title on the appleblog all of a sudden there’s going to be international headlines talking about how Apple is run by Nazi’s. Jesus people, toughen up.

  12. Sorry folks. The headline and other “Nazi” references are purely based on Gizmodo’s use of it to describe Apple…the article is a response to the Gizmodo article.

    I apologize for those that were offended. I’m updating our article now, but please do read the Gizmodo article for some context here.

    • Why do you think the title was inappropriate? Clearly, the author, as well as the anonymous source, agrees that the alleged methods of Apple are akin to the Gestapo. If that is the case—and I do not believe that is the reality of the situation—then wouldn’t that make the people running Apple Nazis? The title of this commentary demonstrates the absurdity of that article’s content.