It’s Just a Phone…

Cross posted with mobilitysite.com.

black-apple-logo-wallpapers_11686_1280x800 Sometimes it seems like we can lose sight of that simple fact. All of this is just about objects and tools, things, it shouldn’t be about people and lives. It is business, nothing more nothing less, not life and death no matter how hard some people try to make it so.

VentureBeat is carrying  the story today, translated from Chinese sources, of Sun Danyong, a 25 year old employee for Foxconn in China who had the job of shipping a set of top secret new 4th gen iPhones from Foxconn to Apple. Only something went wrong. One of the iPhones disappeared before they were shipped, nowhere to be found.

That is when things go haywire…Eric Eldon at VentureBeat writes…

On Thursday, July 9th, Sun got 16 prototype phones from the assembly line at a local Foxconn factory. At some point in the next few days, he discovered that one of the phones was missing. He suspected that it had been left at the factory, but couldn’t find it. On Monday, July 13, he reported the missing phone to his boss. Then, that Wednesday, three Foxconn employees searched his apartment — illegally, according to Chinese law. Accusations are flying that Sun was detained and physically abused during the investigation, although this has not been substantiated (possible evidence: there’s this somewhat garbled and potentially faked instant message exchange from Sun shortly before his death).

What is known: On Thursday — a little after 3 a.m. according to surveillance videos in the apartment building — he jumped out of a window in his apartment building to his death.

So who is the villain here?

Some say Apple is the bad guy due to it’s hyperactive secrecy and tendency to high-handedly punish suppliers for minor mistakes, others say Foxconn for the stormtrooper tactics and over reaction, putting pleasing Apple over protecting it’s employees. Some would blame Sun himself for not going to the police or seeking help. Maybe the tech blogging culture is also to blame, as blogs are scrambling for the merest rumor or fuzzy camera phone shot of a hyped device (especially an iPhone) which can send traffic and reputation soaring. I certainly would not put it past some bloggers to swipe a prototype iPhone and let the poor guy responsible for them take the fall. Sounds like there is a lot of blame to go around, and hopefully some soul searching too.

Whoever is to blame, the tragedy is that a person thought a lost phone, a trade secret possibly leaked, was more important than his life…and his employers drove him to seek any sort of escape from the pressure they were applying. That just isn’t right, and should be a sobering moment for all of us.

Enjoy your life, find value in your work and hobbies, love your family and friends…and remember that however cool and useful it is…it is just a phone.

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