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Next big Apple innovation could come from Blue Sky initiative

by David Needle

November 14 2012

An artist's rendition of Apple's futuristic new headquarters the Silicon Valley company plans to build.
An artist's rendition of Apple's futuristic new headquarters the Silicon Valley company plans to build.

Apple CEO Tim Cook continues to put his own stamp on the iconic Silicon Valley company, with new policy directives.

The latest is an initiative called Blue Sky that lets select employees work on projects for a few weeks that are outside their normal responsibilities.

News of the program comes from Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Lessin in a video report.

Blue Sky sounds a bit like the 20% Time program Google has offered far more broadly to its employees for years. At Google, employees are able to work on side projects about twenty percent of the time with their manager’s approval.

According to a report back in 2010, half of Google’s products originated from 20% Time projects.

After Steve Jobs promoted Cook to CEO over a year ago, he started to implement some programs that Jobs hadn't pursued, including an employer-match program for charitable donations and new employee discounts on Apple products.

Blue Sky “is a far cry from what Google is doing,” says the WSJ’s Lessin, “but it’s showing where Apple is thinking, moving more to a model of what we see throughout the Valley.”

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