Stop me if you’ve heard this before – and yes, I know I have recently started an article with the exact same opening – but a giant corporation’s employee supposed to test new devices in the wild, who clearly doesn’t hold his liquor, recently forgot a high-end unreleased smartphone in a bar.
This time it’s not Apple, whose iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S prototypes were lost in bars in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Of the two, the iPhone 4 has been leaked to the public a couple of months ahead of its launch by the folks at Gizmodo after having purchased it from the finder. This time it’s Google and the LG Nexus 4.
Just like with the iPhone 4, we also know everything there is to know about the LG Nexus 4 ahead of its announcement, but unlike in the iPhone 4 case, the LG Nexus 4 unit that was left in a bar is not the source of all the leaks.
Wired reports that the LG Nexus 4 was found at the 500 Club in San Francisco’s Mission District at some point in late September by a bar keep “after a slow Tuesday.” Jamin Barton realized this is not your average Android phone when he saw the Google logo on the back of the device and a “not for sale” sticker.
A regular customer told Barton this is the Nexus 4, a yet-to-be-released Google handset, and the same person called Google to tell them what has happened. And apparently Google was pretty pissed off about the whole incident:
“Dave” — Barton says he does not know his full name — “sort of freaked out. ‘Google lost a phone,’ he told me. ‘You just got a guy fired…. The Google police are coming’”
After that, the texts and phone messages from Dave became a torrent.
“I probably shouldn’t have shown it to him. But I did. He didn’t work for Google, but Google had him pretty worked up. They told him he could be an accessory or something.”
Google sent Brian Katz, global investigations and intelligence manager at Google to retrieve the lost device on the night of September 20, and he retrieved it at around 1AM that night from a lawyer acquaintance of Barton. Katz even offered a free phone to Barton with a likely retail value of $300, if he kept quiet about the incident until after Google unveiled it.
But Barton sold his story to Wired, which published it just hours ago, right alongside pictures of the unreleased handset that were taken when the device was found.
In fact, looking at one of the photos Barton took, we can clearly see that this LG Nexus 4 was running a Jelly Bean version at the time of the incident. At least that’s what that lock screen seems to suggests, given that it’s so similar with the Nexus 7’s lock screen.
However, it’s worth mentioning (again) that this isn’t the phone we’ve seen in crystal clear photos posted all over that Byelorussian site that got early access to it – and even posted a pre-release review of the handset.
One of the main conclusions of this story is that Google was very desperate and pissed off to have lost a phone like that. Which means it's even more upset to see all the LG Nexus 4 that hit the web in the weeks following the incident – it'll certainly be interesting to see whether the company will mention any of the leaks, or even this incident, during the October 29 event.
Of course, the other more important take away is that if you’re in charge of testing unreleased handsets in the wild, you may want to stay out of bars, or if you go there, at least learn how and what to drink to make sure such things don’t happen.
On a lighter side we can’t but note that, coincidentally, the first high-end Apple and Google devices that were forgotten in bars were the fourth-generation iPhone and Nexus. Are we looking at a curse here? And since the fifth-generation iPhone was also lost in a bar, will the same thing happen with next year’s Nexus?