The lost iPhone prototype

Steve could hear the thunder of a thousand Androids approaching in the distance. He remembers how he lost control of his Mac to an army of Windows-loaded copycats. Steve’s fatal flaw, his "urgency to control his immediate environment" reared its ugly head again. After his brush with death, Steve doesn’t have the energy anymore to continue pretending that he is a changed man since returning to his throne at Cupertino.
Steve had heard that Gray, one of his engineers, had left his iPhone 4 prototype at a The Gourmet Haus Staudt German beer garden, only half an hour's drive from work. He was celebrating his 27th birthday. Steve immediately rallied Apple's Worldwide Loyalty Team - or Steve's Gestapo, as his staff calls them.  If there's a leak, the team will lockdown the Apple campus, hunt down the traitor, and escort him out of the building. They are the last line of defence against losing control of the product news cycle.
So, what happened to the iPhone 4 prototype? Brian, a twenty-one year-old community volunteer found the unusual looking iPhone at the beer garden and called the Apple Help Centre to hand it in. He got no help from the help centre. Apparently they didn’t take him seriously. Brian was surprised at Apple's lack of interest. After trying in vain to do the right thing, who can blame him for deciding to sell the curiosity to the guys at Gizmodo? They love to check out new technology and talk about it on their site. Apple contacted Gizmodo and asked for the phone back. The Gizmodo Editor replied (paraphrased), "Yeah sure. Our guy, Jason, has it. Here's his address." Jason and his wife arrived home from a dinner date late one night and found the front door was smashed in by R.E.A.C.T (Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team) - Steve's S.W.A.T. Their mission is the "apprehension of the professional organizers of large-scale criminal activities".[1] Jason was searched for weapons and all of his computer equipment was confiscated. The warrant was found to be illegal and Gizmodo published the whole saga on their site as it happened.[2] The melodrama became so famous that it spawned one of the top ten words of 2010 in the urban dictionary: 

Protohype: The process of leaking a prototype device to generate buzz about a product you don't quite yet have ready for market to a friendly tech website who will promote the gizmo well before it's ready to go. Gizmodo's finding of that Apple iPhone 4G months before it’s released is clearly a case of protohype.[3]

 Urban Dictionary’s comment begs the question that Leander Kahney of Wired asks,
If Jobs was setting a canary trap, why would he need to sue the outlets of his misinformation? If it were a trap, the publication of any information he'd planted would be all he needed. Going on to sue the publications is an unnecessary step. (Unless he were trying to cover up the canary trap -- but this is too devious even for a spy novel).[4]
A picture begins to resolve of a man whose paranoia runs deeper than is defensible.
The picture got uglier when others rushed to Gray's defence. Woz got involved - which is always bad news for Steve. The cuddly old bear of Silicon Valley talked with Gizmodo at length about the evil shenanigans of his old friend. Gizmodo photographed Woz guzzling a cold one whilst wearing a t-shirt that declared "I went drinking with Gray Powell and all I got was this lousy iPhone prototype". In the same week, Lufthansa Airlines showed their support for Gray by rewarding him a free business class flight to the Munich to sample as much German beer as he can handle. When Andy was asked by New York Times how he would feel if an Android phone prototype got lost at a bar, he quipped, “I’d be happy if that happened and someone wrote about it …With openness comes less secrets.”[5] Sure, Andy.
When a prototype gets lost in China, however, the situation has much more dire consequences. Chinese iPhone factory clerk, Sun Danyong lost an iPhone a year before Gray's faux pas. For Sun there were no free flights, no amusing interviews with Gizmodo, nor did he get a hug from Woz. The twenty-five year-old was searched and beaten up in his own home by senior officials of his employer, Foxconn - who was contracted to build the phone. Sun grew up on a farm where survival is a daily struggle. He worked hard to climb his way out of poverty and managed to graduate from university only a year ago. Losing the iPhone was too much to bear. F. Scott Fitzgerald  wrote that the soul is at its lowest ebb around three am. That's the time Sun chose to jump from the twelfth floor of his unit block. Steve’s obsession with secrecy may be amusing in the West; but further down the supply chain, as it crosses into the East, his secrecy mutates into something uglier. Forbes Magazine  wondered if Steve’s corporate secrets are worth human lives.[6] How embarrassing for him.

[1] Retrieved from:

[2] Gizmodo. (2010, April 27) Police Seize Jason Chen’s Computers. Retrieved from:

[4] Kahney, L. (2007, June 3) Steve Jobs, Spymaster. Wired Magazine.

[5] Stone, B. (2010, April 27) Google’s Andy Rubin On Everything Android. From Bits [blog]. New York Times. Retrieved from

[6] Kwok, V.W (2009, July 22) Foxconn's Lost iPhone Tragedy, Forbes Magazine.

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