A former Apple engineer says Apple may be going too far with its corporate focus on secrecy, and that some people inside the company perpetuate that secrecy to make themselves seem more important.
Bob Messerschmidt worked at Apple from 2010 to 2013 after it bought his startup, Rare Light, which did research on heart rate sensors. He was at Apple when the company was transitioning from Steve Jobs’ leadership to the Tim Cook as CEO era.
“It’s definitely not the same place” as it was when Jobs was CEO, he writes.
“There is really a contingent at Apple that has resorted to the tools of secrecy,” says Messerschmidt, who now runs a biotech startup called Cor.
Jobs wanted secrecy so his keynote announcements would garner as much attention as possible. But now some people at Apple are using secrecy to win internal battles, he says.
“There’s definitely a contingent at Apple that wants secrecy because it helps them maintain an empire, in a sense. It helps them create a sense that they’re doing more important things that they really are,” writes Messerschmidt.
He led the development of the heart rate sensor on the Apple Watch — and according to Cook, sensors are the “holy grail” of what the Apple Watch is capable of. He first joined Apple when it bought his startup in 2010.
Not all of his recommendations were received warmly inside of Apple.
Apparently, he wanted the Apple Watch heart sensors to rest on the underside of a user’s wrist, for example, because that’s how to get the most accurate reading. Apple Chief Design Officer Jony Ive’s industrial design team told him no, because that’s not how people wear watches.
“We had to listen to them. They are the voice of the user. There’s the whole field of Industrial Design that focuses on the use case, the user experience,” Messerschmidt wrote.