Working at Apple vs. working at Google

Working at Apple vs. working at Google

Summary: Why would an engineer want to work at Google instead of Apple? Mostly because it's more technical and less-product oriented, at least according to an ex-Appler on Quora.

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TOPICS: Google, Apple
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I found the following answer in response to the question "Why would an engineer want to work at Google instead of Apple?" on Quora.

Anon User

I worked at Apple for 2 years and change. I have worked at Google for a few years. This is a reflection of Apple in '06 or so. These are my personal opinions, and they're just that; opinions.

Google and Apple are very different. Apple has a design DNA. Google has a technology DNA. You'll feel this everywhere. Google is functional, its about solving a hard problem. Apple is about designing something which looks good, its about selling it and making money.

Apple has a different feel. Its the, I'm cool, feel. Its the look, we made this thing look cooler and prettier and now there are too many people vying for your employee discounted stuff. Fundamentally, Apple was started by, and run by by a salesperson (Wozniac was nominalized). And a very good one at that. Google was started by, and run by three PhD types. It gives it a knowledge is cool feel. The campus feels like a university.

My manager at Apple told me that it is a hardware company, and that software is not the chief priority. This affects Apple, and software engineering is, without question, a second class citizen.

Working at Apple is like working in the Army. Sure you can ask why you should jump into the river, but you better be soaking wet before you ask that question. This might be an exaggeration, but again, it is my opinion. Its hard to be a troublemaker and a controversial character at Apple.

Also, as an individual contributor, your access to information and people internally will be restricted. The company will look like a set of water-tight compartments, magically staying afloat. Of course its not, but as an individual contributor, you wont see anything besides things you ought to see (for the most part).

When I joined Apple, I decreased the mean age of my 6 person engineering group by 3 years or so. And, the thing is, the people at Apple will not appreciate how I phrased the last observation; like a puzzle.

If you're smart, and if you're ambitious, and if you're an engineer, never ever look towards 95014. Never.

Like I said, these are my opinions. I am not making any legal assertions.

Fair assessment?

Topics: Google, Apple

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32 comments
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  • Google has Failure DNA

    and Apple has both Technology and Design DNA.

    Someone said the following: "Google is functional [DNA], its about solving a hard problem"

    The fact is, Google has yet to produce anything functional unless it a direct copy of an Apple's product.
    iPad-awan
    • Actually,

      @iPad-awan

      They have produced functioning software.....










      Functioning to abolish user privacy and collect your dataz! LMAO!
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • RE: Working at Apple vs. working at Google

        @Cylon Centurion 0005
        I have to ask this? Why do you keep confusing Apple with Microsoft?
        Rick_K
      • Uh.. Rick_K.. Cylon was talking about Google.

        @Rick_K<br><br>
        Do you realaze Cylon was talking about Google, not Apple??? He didn't confuse anyone with Microsoft.
        i8thecat
      • RE: Working at Apple vs. working at Google

        @i8thecat : Rick_K is a moron
        nomorebs
    • RE: Working at Apple vs. working at Google

      @iPad-awan : Oh yeah? So I assume you have not heard of Google Search, Gmail, Chrome, Android...<br><br>Someone please wake him/her/it up!
      Lord_of_the_Singhs
      • RE: Working at Apple vs. working at Google

        @Lord_of_the_Singhs
        Google havent invented web search.. just knew how to make money out of it.
        Gmail is not the first webmail... yes it is in stealing personal DATA.
        Chrome is based on <b>Apple</b> Webkit
        Android has been bought first, then it is based on FOSS and Java (stolen code from sun/oracle)
        what else ?
        LionSaba
    • RE: Working at Apple vs. working at Google

      @iPad-awan

      Google Search...
      ThomasB2k
  • I would phrase this much differently

    Apple is customer-focused (sure, it's about making money, and focusing on customer satisfaction and giving folks what they want is the single best way to do that). Google is engineering-focused (still about making money, but their primary cash cow, AdWords, is effectively a monopoly, so they don't have to care about the advertisers who are their customers).

    I can see why an engineer would prefer Google, they're engineering focused. But I hope an engineer can also see why a customer prefers the former. Case in point: try to give Google support a call because, say, your Gmail account is jacked (and yes, this does happen). You'll find that a) there is no phone support, b) there is no email support, c) there is no phone and email support because there is no support organization. That's right - none. Not a single flipping support person in the entire company. That sound like an organization that gives a flying you-know-what about their customers? It's certainly not because they can't afford it. Like true engineers, they simply don't want to deal with their own customers.
    2drinks
    • I agree with 2drinks... Also... He no longer works for Apple...

      @2drinks

      2drinks hit the nail on the head. Google really doesn't give a rip about customers... Apple does... Apple's customer server and support have ruled by a huge margin for the last decade. No one else has come close.

      And regarding this so called engineer... He no longer works for Apple... I think that alone speaks volumes.. He never was an Apple engineer... He didn't belong, he wasn't the right fit. So I wouldn't say it has anything to do with a "fair assessment", it's simply not a real assessment. Just the opinion of someone who never belonged.
      i8thecat
      • RE: Working at Apple vs. working at Google

        @i8thecat

        Let me add some clarity to your argument: Apple is customer-centric because it controls them. They care about what customers want because it's what they've told them they want.
        man_strosity
      • i8thecat, you dismiss someone that Apple had apparently

        disagrees with you about. You claim that he "didn't belong" yet Apple felt he did.

        Who would be the more accurate judge of whether he belonged, or not? You, or Apple?
        :|
        Tim Cook
      • RE: Working at Apple vs. working at Google

        @Mister Spock: that's a too complicated argument for i8thecat. Don't make him feel bad
        nomorebs
  • Sound more like a rant from a former employee

    This letter sounds more like a rant against a former employer than an actual honest comparison.<br><br>Looking at the words, you can see that he spent pretty much the entire letter batching Apple while saying basically nothing about Google ... In fact he only talks about Google in ONE single sentence.<br><br>I have no idea how the author came up to the conclusion that this was a "comparison" between two companies. The entire letter was about a single company.
    wackoae
  • RE: Working at Apple vs. working at Google

    Clearly this young man is not a visual being and has a problem with those that do, those that are perhaps a bit older than he..and could conceivably know a thing or two. I like Google for many things but if Picassa is an example of their software engineering..Yikes what a piece of opaque garbage ( I would have used another word but I am older and thus more polite). Apple seems to be doing quite well without this former employee. Google has excellent technical insight and so does Apple and if they are in fact oriented in differing directions that is fine with me. I love the software that Apple has produced and their products are wonderful. I have never held a Google product. I have owned and used a lot of Apple ones. Google has done a lot of great information technology invention and social benefits have acrued from it. I cannot say the same for Apple though the CEO might have been doing a lot that I do not know about as Mr. Jobs is a private person and Google..less so. Different DNA so why compare them? If one is fascinated with making smooth and beautiful design based software and hardware, go to Apple to live your dream. If you are not oriented that way but rather towards other more engineer/information technology than go the other. Be happy. No need to diss the other view but just realise that the author has a bias based upon his own needs. We need both companies as there are few other worthy players to discuss nowadays who produce original ideas and products either real or virtual.
    nfiertel
  • RE: Working at Apple vs. working at Google

    Both companies are huge and both succeed only in part due to engineering prowess. It is a massively multi-faceted effort, although I'm sure Google would feel more engineering-centric. Apple, especially, rides on the successful efforts of vision, marketing wizardry, the psychology and ergonomics of interface design, visual aesthetics, efficiency, world class engineering and a top-notch management team. It wouldn't surprise me if a certain number of engineers at Apple may not feel that they are a priority. Apple has to balance left-brain and right-brain thinking and make it all work when most contributing individuals are either one or the other.<br><br>As an architect, I ran across something posted on someone's desk once:<br><br><i>Architects learn less and less about more and more<br>until eventually they know nothing about everything.<br>Engineers learn more and more about less and less<br>until eventually they know everything about nothing.</i><br><br>It's a humorous example of how architects need to have a lot of general knowledge: social psychology, building codes, aesthetics, scale, proportion, building products and materials, thermal performance, weather resistance, etc. But they need structural engineers to make it stand up, mechanical engineers for good heating, cooling and plumbing, and electrical engineers for power infrastructure and lighting. An individual mechanical engineer on a project may feel like a small part of the effort, but s/he is crucial even if their effort is compartmentalized.<br><br>I'm sure there are a lot of barriers set up internally at Apple. A major part of their success is getting a huge jump on everybody else. That requires a lot of internal secrecy. As an engineer at Apple, you have to realize your compartmentalization is what makes your employer successful. You want to know more? Either get promoted to a position where your "need to know" sphere is larger, or consider working somewhere else.<br><br>I would never belittle and engineer of any sort - I work with them every day and appreciate their knowledge immensely. But engineers don't often make good big-picture people and aren't often experts at the "soft" stuff of aesthetics and human psychology. It's <b>all</b> important, and Apple gets that, and that's what sells their products. Their vision has enabled some amazing engineering and their engineering has enabled some amazing vision.
    weels
  • RE: Working at Apple vs. working at Google

    Why should we compare things like this? Nonsense, I like apple & U like orange. These cos have different products which serve well their own customers. <br>OK, one don't like Apple & leave, but then what? Can everybody in Apple leave & join Google? Sure not. And are those who like to work in Apple nuts? What's the point to raise this topic? <br>Please, there are too many IT companies too technology already & do too little to serve ordinary people like us. Why can't you leave Apple alone to serving us more user friendly, more ordinary people orientated.
    mac.chan
  • RE: Working at Apple vs. working at Google

    I thought this was comparison piece. Other than mentioning working at Google for a few years, this is the only Google reference: [b]Google and Apple are very different. Apple has a design DNA. Google has a technology DNA. You?ll feel this everywhere. Google is functional, its about solving a hard problem.[/b]

    Everything else is about Apple. How about some Google experiences so we can see the difference for ourselves.
    athynz
    • A logical statement

      @athynz
      let us hope this article continues.
      :|
      Tim Cook
  • my story with google !

    this is my story with google :<br>i applied to work for them at their spanish contact center (adwords support/sales). via a friend who introduced my CV to them.<br>then they called me for interview. as an ex-owner/manager of a contact center i had a very successful interview.. I turned the interview from questions to a a business talk on the costumer satisfaction, outsourcing ... the required language was spanish, i was interviewed in french. and showed them that i'm fluent in three other major languages (total 5).
    I was interviewed by two persons.. the sales manager who was favoring me and told some friends she saw me on that day in the position of optimizer (a higher position than an agent). but the HR man was against hiring me why : <strong>he said "that man could be a virus"</strong>. i successfully responded all his questions with high quality responses which made the sales manager smile every time i speak. then imagine what he asked me as i was wearing my hat. :<strong> "how a serious man could come to serious interview wearing like that "</strong> as he was wearing a suite", i told him man ! coming to work for google, not for a bank ! (look how wears S.Brin& L.Page) .. i read a lot about google internal culture and freedom of "being" what you choose . than they told me we will call you later.<br>then i received a call from google european HQ in ireland for another interview: the woman on the other part of the line haven't had her high school diploma i think. i responded with high quality sentences. and very chosen works. like "philosophy win-win", google revolutionized advertising, google is democratizing advertising..<br>she felt lost and told me if i had a question . i asked 2 or 3 questions, one of them if we possibly will work for corporate accounts or large scale enterprises (to show her how self-confident and ambitious Iam) . she felt lost and told me she don't know. after the call, the feed back she gave to the contact center about me, was that she don't Accept to hire me be cause she <strong>don't know if she called me to interview me or to be interviewed by me </strong>. note here that she has turned it personal . she has nothing bad to grasp on me, like for example my spanish language, or my knowledge or profile or maybe my voice she just felt jealous . and at least i realized that <strong> this contact center wasn't a google implantation. but it was just an outsourced contact center to a company belonging the economic mafia governing my country just like you may know lately about Tunisia and Egypt. </strong>Now, the question is : <strong>what future do you see for a company outsourcing its core commodity sales/satisfaction to a third grade 3rd world contact center ???</strong>
    pst : the HR said that he thinks that I'm a virus, be cause he is afraid that i may take that opportunity (representing google) out of them to my own contact center i just closed and sold ?!?! <strong> don't you think this way they prefer serving their own limited interests instead of feeding their long term strategic relationship with brilliant employees </strong>. it is not their fault. it is google fault. and finally i'm the the victim. i would rather work 8 hours as a sales person or IT/support at an apple store wearing turtleneck and a jeans at apple than a suited robot at a closed google office.
    LionSaba