We talked to the developer of a very successful iPad app yesterday, and he told us a tale about the absurd steps he and his team went through to get an iPad before the product’s launch.
The criteria was that we had to have a room with no windows. They changed the locks on the door.
Three developers and I were the only people allowed to go in the room. Apple needed the names and social security numbers of the people who had access.
Apple needed to be able to drill a hole in the desk and chain the devices to desk. They used those bicycle cables.
They had these custom frames built around them so we couldn’t even tell what the iPads looked like. We could plug into them so we could code to them and we could touch the screen and play with that, but we couldn’t see the form factor.
Then they took pictures of the wood grain. If any pictures leaked out, they could trace it back to which desk they came from.
I wasn’t allowed to tell our CEO. I wasn’t allowed to tell anybody anything about what we were doing. I couldn’t even tell my wife. She was like, “You’re going to get fired if this doesn’t work.”
I hadn’t thought about that but she was probably right.
Luckily, it worked out very well.
The secretive and cult like culture helps make Apple employees proud and loyal to Jobs.