Apple Red-Faced After Prototype iPhone Left in Bar. Again.

By Will Godfrey 09/02/11

Two "priceless" unreleased iPhones have recently been lost by boozed-up Apple employees.

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To lose one prototype iPhone may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose two looks like carelessness. Especially when both bouts of "carelessness" take place in drinking establishments. According to a CNET report, an Apple employee left a classified, unreleased iPhone at a Mexican tequila lounge called Cava22, in the Mission district of San Francisco back in July. The guilty geek, whose desperation can well be imagined, apparently put in multiple calls to the bar's owner Jose Valle about a lost iPhone—but to no avail. "I guess I have to make my drinks a little less strong," remarked Valle. After the culprit came clean to his company, Apple representatives told police that the unidentified phone—which may be a version of the iPhone 5, rumored to be due for release very soon—is "priceless." Then they electronically traced the missing device to a house in nearby Bernal Heights. But when they paid a visit to its male occupant with the cops in tow, a search revealed nothing. Changing tack, the Apple reps reportedly offered the suspect hard cash for the phone's return, with no questions asked. But they were too late—it's believed the device may already have been sold on Craigslist for just $200. It's a familiar feeling for the technology giant. The same thing happened last year, when another Apple employee, computer engineer Robert Gray Powell abandoned a then-unreleased iPhone 4 in a German beer garden in Redwood City, California, after celebrating his birthday. Gadget blog Gizmodo paid $5000 for the prized prototype to two lucky finders—whose luck ran out when charges were filed against them last month. It's likely that a stern text or two will have been sent to hard-partying Apple staff following the latest booze-related blunder.

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Will Godfrey is the former editor-in-chief of TheFix. He was also the founding editor-in-chief of, and previously co-founded a magazine for prisoners in London. His work has appeared in Salon, Pacific Standard, AlterNet and The Nation among others. He is currently the Executive Director at FILTER. You can find Will on Linkedin and Twitter.