Apple’s attention to detail and design is second to none, and despite thousands of talented in-house employees, the company has never shied away from hiring outside design firms for assistance in research and coming up with prototype devices for upcoming products.
One such company relied upon by Apple in the past is SurfaceInk. Over the past 10 years, SurfaceInk, which is not surprisingly based in Silicon Valley, has helped Apple on a number of initiatives. But just a few weeks ago we reported that the two companies decided to go their separate ways. The reason for the split remains unclear, but a New York Times article hinted that it may have something to do with SurfaceInk’s turnkey business, where it helps churn out products that are subsequently licensed out to third parties.
It was that latest part of SurfaceInk’s business, which the company began about five years ago, that apparently unsettled Apple. While SurfaceInk had gotten clients mostly through word of mouth, in June it publicized a prototype 12.1-inch tablet during an electronics trade show.
The device was meant to showcase SurfaceInk’s design capabilities to potential clients, Mr. Bauswell said. He said that Apple viewed those capabilities as a potential competitive threat.
But you didn’t think that Apple would just leave the relationship empty handed, did you? I mean, if there’s design talent to be had, Apple wants it under its umbrella. That said, some nifty sleuthing from MacRumors reveals that a number of SurfaceInk engineers have migrated over to Apple.
According to LinkedIn profiles, we’ve identified four engineers from SurfaceInk who became Apple employees as of August 2010: Paul Yuan and Alex Yeung (Product Design Engineers), Jared Kole(Product Development Engineer), and Craig Leong (R&D, Mechanical Engineer). In addition, Josh Pong and Margie Duffymoved in August from SurfaceInk to become Product Development Engineers at Apple through staffing firm Ryzen Solutions, while William Yarak took a Consulting Product Design Engineer position with Apple just this month.
All told, MacRumors notes that Apple recently hired approximately 7 SurfaceInk employees in the past few weeks, with several more having made a similar transition earlier this year.