Apple is known as the most secretive consumer company in Silicon Valley, and leaks are rare. But the iPhone prototype was left in a bar in the Silicon Valley town in Redwood city. Photos of the device began surfacing on technology blogs, sparking a frenzy of hype among the Apple-obsessed.
This embarrassing leak has caused the California-based tech juggernaut a huge impact economically. At the point of writing, potential iPhone 3GS customers are abandoning their plans to purchase the widely-popular smartphone, which sold 8.75 million units for the quarter ended March 27. People prefer to wait for the newer and faster iPhone 4G, which is rumored to be announced on June 22 and available in stores in September.
I believe that this iPhone prototype will not become the next generation of iPhone, and Steve Jobs and Co. will make Gizmodo a laughing stock by launching a phone of different design. Apple can’t possibility sell an iPhone that millions of pairs of eyeballs have already seen it months before the launch. The brand value and amount of hype the 4th generation would receive definitely fall below par than what its predecessors garnered previously. And Steve wouldn’t be able to say his magic word “Incredible” during his keynote speech in June.
You might argue that it’s perhaps too late for Apple to change its design (2 more months to go before the official announcement). Apple tend to create dozens of prototypes, trying to get the design perfect for the Dear Leader, and the best ones go through relentless testing to ensure that the standard of quality is top-notch. It’s unlikely that they just focus on one prototype. They are sure to have some backups.
When the date of an Apple event draws closer, top executives will then make the final decision at the very last minute. And mass production often comes after the launch of a highly-anticipated product. Two quintessential examples would be the iPhone 3GS and iPad. Both became available in stores 3 months after the official announcement. That’s why there is a possibility that the lost iPhone picked up by the guy sitting beside Gray Powell in the bar might not be iPhone 4G after all (but Gizmodo claims so), given that the decision hasn’t been made by Apple yet.
The main reason behind all these: to avoid any unfortunate circumstances where leaks are revealed to the public before Steve Jobs steps onto stage and proudly announce the iPhone.
Like in this situation of the Apple engineer misplacing the prototype disguised in an iPhone 3GS case, Apple could either switch to another of its mock-up or tweak its design and hardware features to ensure that it would not look like the one featured on Gizmodo.
If this is so, then why is Apple is so worried sick and has made a formal request asking Gizmodo to return the device? Well, the prototype is a confidential asset of Apple and the public shouldn’t be in possession of the top-secret smartphone, except for its employees working on the phone.
Though the authenticity of it being an iPhone prototype is there after the folks over the Gizmodo have dissected the phone, the photographs still don’t paint a clear picture of what the real iPhone 4G will look like. Undoubtedly, Apple will come up something different from the leaked version. However, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise as features craved by current iPhone users such as the front-facing camera to support video calls, double mics for noise cancellations, and a bigger back camera with flash, have already been revealed and Apple can’t do anything much about it.