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Reports: Foxconn Employee Commits Suicide After Losing iPhone Prototype

A 25 year-old employee of Foxconn has killed himself after he lost an a 4th generation iPhone prototype, according to news sources out of China. Sun Danyong, a recent engineering graduate who had landed a gig of handling product communications for Foxconn, threw himself out of a window in the aftermath of an internal investigation over the disappearance of an iPhone prototype with which he had been entrusted.

Foxconn is a large, China-based OEM that manufacturers and assembles many of Apple's products, including the iPhone. According to a VentureBeat and stories coming out of China, there are allegations that Foxconn employees illegally searched Sam Danyong's home, that he was detained, and that he was possibly abused.

"We are saddened by the tragic loss of this young employee, and we are awaiting results of the investigations into his death," an Apple spokesperson told CNET. "We require our suppliers to treat all workers with dignity and respect."

The story goes that Mr. Danyong received sixteen 4th generation iPhone prototypes on July 9th that were meant to be sent to Apple, one of which went missing over the next couple of days. Failing to find it at the factory, Mr. Danyong reported it missing to his superiors on July 13th.

Mr. Danyong's home was then searched by Foxconn employees, and he was detained. On Thursday, July 16th, Mr. Danyong leapt to his death from a window in his apartment, which is backed up by apartment security footage.

5 comments from the community.

You can post your own below.

BurmaYank said:

I wonder how often in the past competitors have gotten their hands on iPhone prototypes or advanced plans so far in advance (a year?) of their releases.

Will Apple have to make big changes in their plans for the G4, now?


iJack said:

Uh, BurmaYank.  I think you’re missing the point of the story.


Bronco46blogs said:

Did he jump or was he pushed?


BurmaYank said:

Uh, BurmaYank.  I think you’re missing the point of the story.
  Did he jump or was he pushed?

Yes, there are other important points to this story, and I do tend to agree with John Martellaro’s implication (“Death is Too High a Price to Protect Apple’s Secrets”) that Apple’s merciless obsession for secrecy may have induced Foxconn to drive this guy to suicide or to even push him out the window. 

But I nevertheless also think that as big a story as that is, the question, “Now that Apple’s competition apparently has an advanced copy of the next 4G iPhone a year before it would likely have been released, won’t Apple now have to scrap its current 4G?” is just as big a point of this story for Appleistas.


Bronco46blogs said:

Do we know if this was a working prototype or mock up. Many times manufacturers
make non- working models to allow for non functional testing and design of cases
and other accessories. If this phone is to be different enough from the current model
then even a non-working model would be an intelligence disaster for Foxconn.
And since this would be the fourth refresh the chances of a change in the form factor
of the next iPhone seems possible.


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