Foxconn engineer commits suicide after losing iPhone 4G prototype

Chris Davies - Jul 21, 2009, 3:11am CDT

A Foxconn employee in China has committed suicide, after a fourth-gen Apple iPhone prototype he was entrusted with went missing.  25 year-old Sun Danyong worked in the company’s product communications department, and was responsible for shipping prototypes from Foxconn to Apple.  Having reported the missing handset, Sun’s apartment was illegally searched by Foxconn employees and he was, according to unsubstantiated allegations, detained and physically abused.  On Thursday July 16th, just after 3am, he jumped from the window of his apartment.

Commentators in China are already saying that this is an example of how extreme issues of Apple confidentiality are taken by manufacturers there.  Faced with a potential leak – either to the press or a rival firm – Foxconn are under pressure to do whatever they can to preserve their lucrative relationship with Apple.  There are plenty of anecdotal reports about Apple bypassing manufacturers for future production after product details were leaked ahead of the official launch.  While you can’t say Apple is responsible for what sounds, on the face of it, an over-reaction from Foxconn, it’s an example of the lengths to which firms will go to cater to a client.

There’s a price to be paid for secrecy, and for the leaks of taunting Apple tidbits that precede each new announcement.  In the US and Europe that price can be seeing your blog black-listed, missing out on pageviews or launch invitations, or simply criticism from the rest of the online news community.  We’d do well to remember the people further up the leak-chain; whether Sun Danyong made an honest mistake with the fourth-gen iPhone prototype, or intended to leak details about it, either way he felt the ramifications of being found responsible by his employer were so great that suicide seemed a better option.  It’s hard to imagine a product that could legitimately be so important.

[Image is of first-gen iPhone prototype]

[via IntoMobile]

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9 Responses to Foxconn engineer commits suicide after losing iPhone 4G prototype

  1. It’s not the product that’s important, it’s as you pointed out in the article, the business is cut-throat. Apple is probably a huge slice of Foxconn’s pie.

    Truthfully, this is more of a cultural issue than a an issue of Apple secrecy. Suicide is (unfortunately) a common reaction to dishonor and embarrassment in Asia. In 2005 suicide was the number one cause of death between 20 and 35 year olds. Over half of all suicides in the world are in Asia. I think the fact the the iPhone was involved is just unfortunate for Apple.

  2. Oh, come on. Give me a freakin’ break.
    What has Apple to do with the way Foxconn handles it’s problems?
    We’re talking about China here, a country where people get treated like animals every single day. If I owe the IRS $100k and commit suicide because I can’t pay it back and I don’t want to go to jail hardly anyone will say that the pressure the government puts on you is responsible for that.
    Somehow, somewhere Apple is always responsible for all evil in the world!

    • Who are you calling animal? In my experience most Chinese would not take the abuse given out by the US government and big companies. It is amazing how the American people just take the lies and abuses. Talking about lack of human rights.

    • I don’t think people in China are all treated like animals, but I do agree Apple should not do business with people that do not care about the well being of its employee and more over conduct illegal activities against its employee

      • Actually Hong Hai is a pretty good company to work for…although they got a bad rap last year about having the worker lived in a gym. The question that should be asked is why was there a gym? The gym is for the entertainment of the workers. Last year Apple’s growth was so great that the company was hiring faster then they can built the dorms. Their dorms room is four to a room, with TV, heat and a/c. Small by US standard but great for China. In fact most IT related manufacturer has great facilities for its worker due to it being very expense to train a new worker.

        The problem you are talking about is more to do with Industrial espionage, all companies take the most server action around the world. We have seen much worst what companies do to those involves in potential industrial espionage.

        In other news, Microsoft hired a senior Apple retail manager and plan to open stores close to Apple’s stores.

  3. See how the fanboys can’t pause in their defense of Apple long enough to express sympathy for Sun’s pointless death? Heaven forbid anyone think negative thoughts about a consumer goods manufacturer!!!

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