You can usually tell something big is coming from Apple when their online store goes down. That’s certainly true today as Apple took down the online store a few hours in advance of its big Worldwide Developers Conference.So why does Apple need to take the online store down for so long and what happens behind-the-scenes at Apple while it’s offline? Joe Moreno, a former Apple engineer who worked on the online store during several launches, broke it down for us:
The store goes down usually at least a half hour or an hour before the keynote presentation. That gives the engineers at least a couple hours to work out any issues. Even the engineers don’t know what the new product will be. We have catalogers who put the stuff we don’t have access to into the database. Then it takes about 20 minutes and we migrate the new products and code that are in the database into the production database. Then it gets tested and still, at this point, it’s just the catalogers who can see it. The engineers don’t get called in unless there’s a problem. The store is already up before the keynote is over, but you can’t get to it – the caches are preloaded.
In fact, Moreno told us that during his time there, many Apple employees went through the the same post-keynote routine as Apple’s devoted customers:
I was working there when we launched the iPhone. We saw the announcement in a conference room and then we all went back to our desks and kept refreshing the page waiting for the store to go back up. When it did, we were all like, “Wow, iPhone!”