The existence of Apple University, a college of sort for teaching the Apple way at Apple’s Infinite Loop headquarters in Cupertino, California, is not a secret. But the details of how Apple University works and what the school teaches have been mostly hidden from the spotlight. Today, The New York Times has published a fairly extensive profile of Apple University, which is well-worth a read.

Unlike many corporations, Apple runs its training in-house, year round. The full-time faculty — including instructors, writers and editors — create and teach the courses. Some faculty members come from universities like Yale; Harvard; the University of California, Berkeley; Stanford; and M.I.T., and some continue to hold positions at their schools while working for Apple.

Apple University is run by former Yale business school dean Joel Podolny, and Podolny took a full-time role as Dean of Apple University earlier this year as he handed off his former Human Resources responsibilities to Denise Young-Smith. The New York Times’s profile discusses some of the classes. Courses range from those for the leaders of newly acquired companies to learn how to integrate their former businesses into Apple to courses about simplifying products.

In “What Makes Apple, Apple,” another course that Mr. Nelson occasionally teaches, he showed a slide of the remote control for the Google TV, said an employee who took the class last year. The remote has 78 buttons. Then, the employee said, Mr. Nelson displayed a photo of the Apple TV remote, a thin piece of metal with just three buttons. How did Apple’s designers decide on three buttons? They started out with an idea, Mr. Nelson explained, and debated until they had just what was needed — a button to play and pause a video, a button to select something to watch, and another to go to the main menu.

While Apple University teaches Apple employees some key lessons about Apple’s decision making processes that led to the company’s rapid growth and success over the past decade, the most important take away is that Apple has set up a unique and comprehensive experience for ensuring that the company continues to thrive in the immediate post-Steve Jobs era and beyond.

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14 Responses to “New York Times profiles Apple University, Infinite Loop’s school for life after Jobs”

  1. prolango says:

    The comments on the NYT article are a all bashing Apple and its design philosophy. Are the rest of us 9to5mac readers just fanboys or are Apple products just easier and better designed than the competition?

    I used to work at Microsoft; left around Vista and could not look back. I tried helping a friend get on WiFi with Windows 8 and I was baffled.

    Mac OSX, while initially intimidating, came naturally and has been getting better and better. My MacBook Air is a late 2010 model and still runs like new. I could never keep a PC product that long.


    • “Mac OSX, while initially intimidating, came naturally and has been getting better and better. My MacBook Air is a late 2010 model and still runs like new. I could never keep a PC product that long.”

      My previous PC was a Gateway computer I bought off-the-shelf from Best Buy back in 2006. Came preloaded with Vista and later Windows 7 (and briefly the Windows 8 consumer preview) That machine ran just fine all the way up to earlier this year 2014 when I retired it. The only reason I retired it was because the RAM was going bad and needed replacing but i decided to self-build a new PC purely for the fun the experience (transplanting some of the components from my old machine – again in use since 2006 and still work just fine).

      Again, this was an off-the-shelf PC that worked fine for roughly 8 years and could’ve kept going if I needed it to (Windows 8 ran at least as well as Windows 7 did on it). So I do not buy the idea that one could never have a PC last for 4 years. That’s just plain false. Excuse me but that’s more on the owner and how one manages computer hardware than on the capabilities of the hardware itself.


    • That’s because they’re too stupid and/jealous to understand it. First of all it’s human nature to pan anything competing against what you use/like/root for, etc., like a Red Sox fan would spew their detest for the retiring Derek Jeter, when any intelligent baseball fan would respect him for his ability to play, but more importantly his attitude, sportsmanship, competitive nature, and most importantly his no holes barred 100% effort each time he steps on the field.

      If people are too stupid to understand Apple’s design then I suggest they but Apple products because they’re designed to accommodate the stupid people.


      • herb02135go says:

        The anecdote about the remote is interesting but it doesn’t mean that less is more.

        Telephones didn’t always have buttons or a dial. You had to speak to an operator to tell them who you wanted to speak with.

        Years ago, a friend had Apple tv with submenus and minimalist remote. It was a PITA to the point she didn’t watch as much tv.


      • Less is more in this case. You can’t seriously say that you’d rather have 78 buttons to look at as opposed to a few.


    • herb02135go says:

      Apple has a cult following, and this (and other sites) promote that.
      The fan boys here lack critical thinking skills, which also happens in a cult.
      Unfortunately, it also hampers evolution and innovation.


      • rafalb177 says:

        Well, it’s called 9to5Mac. If you don’t like it here maybe you shouldn’t read it…


      • Critical thinking is why Apple’s products are so much superior. Apple thinks differently than others, in that they actually think.


      • That’s not to say they don’t not think sometimes too. Like for example the removal of swiping in the Finder is an example of Apple not thinking, just drooling mindlessly.


      • evilsteven says:

        Awww cheer up man! I’m sure someday someone somewhere will give 2 shits about the tech you like! And you’ll be able to comment about it. But until then I guess your stuck vicariously watching other people love their apple products. So sorry bro!