Apple's Lost iPhone: A Case of Puppet Master or Victim?

Apple could be worse off.

By now we all know Gray Powell, a software engineer at Apple, "lost" a prototype iPhone in a bar in Redwood City, California. Since then, the device ended up in the hands of Gizmo

apple iphone
do, was reviewed, and eventually made its way back to Apple.

Many folks think this is bad news for the Cupertino-based company. Others might even go as far as saying Apple somehow screwed up.

Personally, I think Apple deserves a little more credit; with its long history of device leaks, it must know a thing or two about turning lemons into lemonade.

My colleague, Ed Oswald, said in a post, " is beyond comprehension to me that the company (Apple) would allow a lower-level employee to walk off One Infinite Loop with a prototype in hand on a personal jaunt."


Oswald cites Apple's notorious love of secrecy and goes as far as saying that covering Apple is "much like walking blindfolded into a maze." How does a company like the one Oswald describes end up in a situation like this?

I see three options. First and (hopefully) least likely, is that Apple's policies are lax, and the company has been lucky something like this hasn't happened before. Second, is that Powell was careless and took the prototype offsite without Apple's blessing (substantially more likely). Third is that Apple planted the device on the 27-year-old software engineer, and hoped for the ensuing media circus.

I'm not one to subscribe to conspiracy theories. In fact, I think most are plain silly. For the sake of argument let's consider Apple might have played a role.

Some of you might say organizing a leak of this magnitude would be a foolish for Apple because it gives competitors a chance to up their future hardware. PC World commentor technicalhitman said this regarding another story about the iPhone leak:

"... Apple intentionally leaked it's (sic) own device so that HTC, Samsung, Microsoft, RIM, Nokia, Motorola, Sony, & others could have a sneak peek well in advanc

apple iphone
e? So that the competition's phones due for a September, October, & November could be sufficiently modified to outspec the iPhone HD?"

I think that is a valid point, with one caveat: try as they might, HTC, Samsung, RIM and the works will never be able to make an iPhone.

Apple has a lot of backing just for being Apple, everybody and their dog is already on iTunes, and the iPhone is and always has been the device to beat. Remember the long line of "iPhone killers"? By the way, all of-which have failed to dethrone Apple's device (although Android devices are catching up.)

At this point it doesn't matter if Apple was the puppet master or the victim. The company has a prototype device in the spotlight and it's got people wondering about what may or may not be coming this summer.

PC World commentor rcossebo said, "Personally, this (the leak) doesn't change a thing in my book! I'm still buying the Next Gen iPhone from Apple whether it looks like this or not. I'm sure the new bells and whistles on the iPhone are going to put the rest of the Smart Phone market to shame. As I read somewhere else, Apple doesn't just make the bar higher, then SET THE AGENDA! Apple has been that way for a LONG LONG time and I don't see their star fading anytime soon!"

I'm guessing other folks feel the same.

I'm not saying I'm convinced that Apple orchestrated the leak, I just wouldn't be surprised. What do you think?

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