Let's face it — Alcohol has been the cause of many, many moments of regret. But for one 27-year-old beer drinker and Apple software engineer, his walk of shame had nothing to do with girls. It was the walk through his company's doors last month, to explain that he left one of the most buzzed-about, and most secretive, pieces of mobile technology today — on a bar stool after a night of drinking.
Truth is, I actually feel bad for the guy. He has got to be feeling humiliated. My sympathies even tempted me to forego this post. But truth is, the story has already been broken. And in all honesty, my first duty is to our readers — and how the next-gen iPhone got lost in the first place has been a huge question in the mind of the public.
And so, according to Gizmodo, here's how it went...
On March 18, a young man goes to a German beer garden in Redwood City, CA, called The Gourmet Haus Staudt. He's enjoying himself. And why not? The guy's been doing his duty, working on the software the iPhone uses to make phone calls. (UPDATE: It was actually his birthday, and he was out celebrating.) At some point in the night, he updates his Facebook page using the device — which he's testing out in the real world. Sometime after that, he gets his things together and walks out the door, blissfully ignorant of the fact that he's forgetting something: the prototype that's still sitting on the stool at the bar.
The guy who ultimately wound up with it thought it was just a forgotten 3GS, thanks to an outer case that was styled to look like one. By the next morning, the phone was remote wiped. That's when he noticed the phone didn't look or feel quite right, and the front facing camera was a dead giveaway that something was off. So he cracked open the shell to reveal the real next-generation iPhone staring at him in the face.
So like I said, I feel bad for the engineer. Yes, it was a bone-headed thing to do, no doubt. But it was an honest mistake, not an act of self-serving profiteering or corporate espionage. I might feel differently if I were his boss, or Steve Jobs himself. Scratch that. I'm sure I'd feel differently. But I'm not, and so I empathize with the unimaginable regret, embarrassment — and maybe even a little fear — this guy must be feeling. His name (which I am purposely not divulging here — you can hit the source link at the bottom, if you're that curious) will be connected to this debacle for some time to come.
Let this be a learning lesson: Top secrets and beer don't mix. Actually, that's pretty good advice in general, no?
UPDATE: Turns out, the finder of the lost iPhone had tried to contact Apple, calling multiple support numbers in an effort to find someone — anyone — who would take him seriously. Since there had been no company announcements or even gossip, none of the customer service reps had a clue that an iPhone prototype was lost. They chalked up this situation to either a hoax, or just some dude who's mistaking a China knock-off for the real thing. In the end, they gave him a support ticket, like he's reporting a minor syncing glitch with iTunes or something, and not the recovery of one of the most buzzed-about handsets in mobile tech today. It's both believable and incredible at the same time.