Another headline was "Paranoid management, disrespect, constant tension, and long hours."
Having some fun at Macworld
This can depend greatly on one's boss. But, in general, yes, there is constant tension and long hours. It's actually a lot like graduate school. There's an endless barrage of tough classes, exams, take-home exams, grueling thesis work, and late-night hours. And yes, an occasional asshole professor. This is par for the course when trying to achieve something worthwhile.
One final entry. "Middle management asserted itself after Steve Jobs died." A former VP complained about how the engineering team could no longer dictate terms. I submit: that may not always work. When engineering has final say, and parts can't be obtained in sufficient quantity, the product ships late or is always in short supply.
These days, in global economic warfare with Samsung, Apple has to be very careful about how it designs and then manufactures products by the tens of millions. Products must be brilliant, but be shippable in mass quantities in a global market. On time. Consider: the current Mac Pro may be suffering from that effect.
Many a VP, some who were my acquaintance or boss's boss, ran afoul of Apple's executive team because they thought they could throw their weight around. They always found out they couldn't the hard way. It was always sad to see.
What About Today?
I worked for Apple from mid-2000 to late 2005. To find out if much had changed, I spoke, off the record, with a friend who's still there. The answer is that things are pretty much the same — except that things are generally better thanks to Apple's success. Success breeds a certain confidence leading forward that the right things were done. However, there are still the customary Apple irritations, things that every employee puts up with. I won't (and can't) go into detail about that because I don't have permission.
Another colleague I worked with back then says that people she knows now in Apple are just a bit more relaxed. When we worked at Apple under Steve Jobs, there was a certain tension that percolated down through the ranks. It was good — it drove people to excellence, but it could wear one down. Today, I'm told that Tim Cook has created a slightly more relaxed atmosphere. But that doesn't mean there isn't the usual Apple pressure to work hard and tackle some very tough work.
Whining is not the answer. The people who were quoted in this article, I am sure, certainly had their reasons for posting a rant. Frustration. Burn out. Disrupted family life. Insufficient industry experience. A rare but particularly bad supervisor. But every company has those issues.
When you work for Apple you're following a personal dream. You're working with a team that can literally change the world. If you're able to sustain the work and lose some sleep, it's the thrill of a lifetime. However, few last for a very long period of time, and find that it's eventually wise to move on.
In the end, an article like the one I've referenced is just a cherry pick of complaints. It doesn't do proper service or put in perspetive what working for Apple is all about for the vast majority of employees, and it disrespects their hard-won contributions.
It was just one more of those cynical articles that, with blinders, that casts an angry eye towards Apple for the sake of a headline. I was sad to see it paint itself as a relevant vision of Apple.