By Frank James
Most people have stories about mistakes they made early in their careers that they wish hadn't happened. It appears a young Apple engineer has one that's a doozy and may go down in the annals of mistakenly revealed corporate secrets.
The engineer in his late 20s, who technology website Gizmodo.com has identified but I won't out of sense of pity, apparently left the phone, a test model of the next generation iPhone due out this summer, at a German restaurant in Silicon Valley called the Gourmet Haus Staudt.
Now at most companies, losing an unreleased version of a new product would be bad. But Apple has made secrecy around its new products something of a fetish so it's presumably even a more horrible misstep there than at many other corporations.
The lost phone wound up in the hands of Gizmodo.com which has written about how the phone came into its hands, and about the phone itself and opened it up and published photos, too.
If a piece of writing could be said to smirk, then Gizmodo.com's report is a smirk in words:
On the night of March 18, he was enjoying the fine imported ales at Gourmet Haus Staudt, a nice German beer garden in Redwood City, California. UPDATE Why wouldn't he? It was his birthday. He was turning 27 that very same day, and he was celebrating. He was happy. The place was great. The beer was excellent. "I underestimated how good German beer is," he typed into the next-generation iPhone he was testing on the field, cleverly disguised as an iPhone 3GS. It was his last Facebook update from the secret iPhone. It was the last time he ever saw the iPhone, right before he abandoned it on bar stool, leaving to go home.
It a simple, honest mistake. Something that anyone, from Steve Jobs to Jonathan Ive, could have done. Knowing how ferocious and ruthless Apple is about product leaks, those beers may have turned out to be the bitterest of his life...
Later, the Gizmodo.com writer appears to ask Apple to show mercy for the engineer, who the writer had contacted at his work phone:
He sounded tired and broken. But at least he's alive, and apparently may still be working at Apple--as he should be. After all, it's just a %#$@$@ iPhone and mistakes can happen to everyone-- ... you, me, and Steve Jobs.
The only real mistake would be to fire (him) in the name of Apple's legendary impenetrable security, breached by the power of German beer and one single human error.