Lost iPhone: Mother of all leaks, pity the poor son

Posted on by Mike Evans


Author: Michael Evans

We've heard a lot about the alleged new iPhone in the past 48 hours but everyone seems to have overlooked the dreadful plight of the Apple employee who left his heavily camouflaged alleged next-generation prototype on a stool a Californian bar. 

Everyone has lost a phone from time to time, but this was the mother of all losses which has caused huge embarrassment for Apple, one of the most secretive of all tech companies. Apple have more or less confirmed the rumours by writing to Gizmodo, who allegedly paid $5,000 for the lost phone, to demand its return to Cupertino (see letter, left). 

Gray Powell, a 27-year-old Apple software engineer, lost the device (whatever it is, it was disguised as an iPhone 3G) in Gourmet Haus Staadt in Redwood City on March 18. I feel sorry for the guy; it's an easy mistake to make but it's a mistake that will do nothing for Steve Jobs' temper or Powell's prospects at Apple. It could have happened to any of us, so we should not feel smug.

According to AppleInsider, the North Carolina State University graduate typed one last Facebook update--"I underestimated how good German beer is"--into his prototype iPhone before it was left on a bar stool. This must be the underestimation of all time. The temptation to produce a Steve Jobs version of the famous Hitler scene from the German film, Der Untergang, must be overwhelming.

Presumably Apple has known about the loss for a month, but it is strange that it has taken so long for the story to break. Some commentators have suggested it was a deliberate leak, but the circumstances make that line almost unbelievable. Whatever it was, it is a major scoop for Gizmodo in a world of rumour and counter-rumour.

Fortunately for Apple, while this is definitely an embarrassment, they find themselves yet again the centre of attention. In fact, if they had deliberately planted the device they could hardly have hoped for more positive publicity. An involuntary leak, particularly when the attractions of the new device are so obvious, will be positive for Apple in the long run. It will do nothing but good for iPhone sales; few people will now be unaware that there is a new phone coming this year. 

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