I know I’m late to this, but John Gruber’s piece on this is excellent, and brings up this point that I’ve been wanting to discuss.
Consider, too, every coincidence that we’re asked to believe in this tale.
This is one of the most fascinating parts of the story to me. All of these had to happen for the official story to be true:
- An Apple employee accidentally lost the highly guarded, likely final version of the next version of their highest-profile product line by leaving it out, in the open, on a bar stool. (Very unlikely.)
- The finder happened to be inconsiderate or oblivious enough not to give it to the bartender. (Unlikely.)
- The finder, now the thief, having decided not to try to return it to its owner, didn’t just try to pawn it or otherwise get rid of it quickly for cash. (Unlikely.)
- The thief noticed that it was an unreleased version of the iPhone, and knew that this would be worth much more than any other lost phone. (Very unlikely.)
I don’t believe, for a second, that Gizmodo’s serendipitous, innocent “left it on the stool” story is true.
John’s suggestion of one possible real story makes a lot more sense:
In my book, anyone who did this with a phone left on a bar stool would be just as likely to, say, take it out of someone’s jacket pocket if they noticed its unusual nature while the engineer was using it at the bar — which, we know the engineer did, given that he updated his Facebook page that evening with a comment regarding the quality of the beer he was drinking.
How about this extension of John’s implied theory:
An unscrupulous geek noticed the high-resolution display and realized that this was a preproduction iPhone. He sat near the Apple engineer, waited for an opportune moment, and stole the N90 from a slightly open bag or jacket pocket. The Apple engineer, having had a few beers, and — crucially — this probably not being the only iPhone he was carrying,1 did not notice that the N90 was missing until after he had left the bar.
Which story is more likely?
If my iPhone isn’t in my pocket, I notice immediately. It’s a muscle memory: I instantly recognize that the sensation isn’t right.
Being a prototype with beta software in field testing, and likely to be reset often for the baseband updates that he was working on, using the N90 as his only phone would be impractical. He probably just took it out once in a while for testing, keeping it in a secondary jacket pocket or bag most of the time. I bet he would have noticed his main iPhone missing from his pocket even if he had a lot to drink, but if this was just supposed to be in a bag pocket, he could have plausibly not noticed until much later or the next morning. ↩︎