In the field of software development, the term „dogfooding“ is particularly well known. This means nothing other than that a company first tests its own products completely itself before the products go on sale. Employees are thus encouraged to use and test their own products. In short, then, it can be said that the company „eats its own dog food.“
When a company is dogfooding, it simply means that the company’s employees are testing the quality of the products they produce in order to make improvements. For example, a Coca Cola employee does not drink Pepsi, just as Microsoft employees use only Excel to log their work hours.
Origin of Dogfooding
Two myths exist regarding the origin of the term dogfooding. One variant of the myths is the one that can be derived from an advertisement from the 1970s. Here the actor Lorne Greene claims that the dog food of the brand Alpo is so good that he himself would offer it to his own dogs. The second myth is that a CEO by the name of Karl Ken Pet Food intentionally ate dog food during a shareholders‘ meeting.
What is the purpose of dogfooding? Sense, purpose, benefit
Dogfooding is mainly used as an effective tool for quality assurance. After all, only if you are not completely satisfied with the product you have made yourself does it have potential for improvement. After all, nobody likes to drive around in a car that stops every 20 kilometers. However, it is possible to overdo it with dogfooding. Rarely do programmers have a clue about accounting in order to put an accounting program through its paces. Likewise, a mechanical engineer working in shifts doesn’t want to stand in front of his industrial machine for a whole three months to test it.
Sometimes, however, dogfooding requires a lot of courage. For example, a product for circular saws was invented to prevent serious accidents. For this purpose, the capacity of the material to be cut is measured on the saw blade to prevent „meat“ from getting in between. If „meat“ is detected, the machine can stop within 1/100 of a second. The inventor of this product was so convinced of this that he even put his own fingers into the running circular saw.
Where else can dogfooding be found?
Of course, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also prescribed dogfooding to his employees. Zuckerberg dreams of a virtual world where avatars not only work, but also spend their free time.
The most important application at the moment (2022/2023) is called „Horizon Worlds,“ but it is so unpopular among Meta employees that hardly anyone spends time there. As a result, the group’s vice president has decreed that everyone who works there should fall in love with Horizon Worlds. After all, this cannot be done without using it. In particular, this approach fits perfectly with the state-influencing EU. Not least because the European Commission itself had organized a virtual party in Zuckerberg’s Metaverse.
Here, every EU citizen between the ages of 18 and 35 could participate and, for example, dance with their avatars on different beaches. The aim of the whole thing was to arouse interest in the EU’s activities as well as the Metaverse. Unfortunately, the event was not really successful. Only a total of six people met in the Metaverse. One of them was a journalist, which is why this event found its way into the press. However, it didn’t take long before all the other 5 remaining participants had disappeared and the journalist was left alone.
How does Apple use dogfooding?
Most of the time, it’s not a good idea to mix business and personal. If you leave your company at some point, you may not be able to access your personal data because you have to hand over all your accounts and devices. That’s why more and more companies are demanding strict separation, even when employees use their own devices for work purposes. The exception here is Apple. Due to dogfooding, employees have to use their private accounts. This is to determine which new software still needs improvement during the development phase.
In addition, Apple prohibits employees from generating new IDs with their work accounts in order to log in to the App Store platform, for example. Rather, Apple expected them to use their own personal accounts. Especially also because iPads, Macs or iPhones only accept one main account for iCloud anyway. Additional Apple IDs can only be created for media services.
In addition, the press revealed that dogfooding, i.e. the early testing of new software, results in considerably more data being collected than for the end customer. This mainly applies to facial recognition, which takes a photo of the user every time a device is opened. If this were the case with the final customers, they would probably go crazy. The company has not commented on these incidents so far.