Chinese worker commits suicide after losing prototype iPhone 4G (updated)

Chinese worker commits suicide after losing prototype iPhone 4G (updated)

Summary: VentureBeat reports (via News reports coming out of China) that 25 year-old Sun Danyong committed suicide on July 9 after a fourth-generation iPhone prototype he was responsible for went missing. Danyong worked for Foxconn in Shenzhen in Guangdong province near Hong Kong which manufacturers iPhones for Apple.

SHARE: reports (via News reports coming out of China) that 25 year-old Sun Danyong committed suicide on July 9 after a fourth-generation iPhone prototype he was responsible for went missing. Danyong worked for Foxconn in Shenzhen in Guangdong province near Hong Kong which manufacturers iPhones for Apple. According to VB part of Danyong's job description was to ship iPhone prototypes to Apple.

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.

This story is a tragedy that speaks volumes about the inordinant amount of secrecy that Apple shrouds its products in. I'm not saying that Apple's to blame for the worker's suicide, but there's something to be said about the side effects of borderline-insanity level of secrecy that Apple demands of its partners. The high level of pressure and stress that Apple creates for workers with access to its products -- especially in other countries -- could have contributed to this unfortunate death. Update: CNET reports that Apple has released a statement regarding the incident:

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

Apple declined any further comment on the events or the missing prototype.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Oracle, Smartphones

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  • More likely the poor fellow was


    Ponder if this was industrial espionage, with maybe those who broke into the person's apartment involved in the espionage, and also as those that may have perpetrated this "suicide"?
    • I kind of agree...

      Sounds like this guy was "accidentally" killed when he was thrown headfirst out the window to simply "scare" him into giving up the device!
  • RE: Chinese worker commits suicide after losing prototype iPhone 4G

    Actually Jason the Press are also responsible since you hound and hound companies and try to leak ahead of time. You are the people putting the pressure on. If you weren't so keen to reveal internal information this pressure wouldn't exist.

    The death of princess Diana was a classic case of the press chasing someone to their death. This is just another sad example.
    Antony Kay
  • before we get worked up about apple...

    remember that foxconn makes EVERYTHING. well, not everything, but they are a huge company that makes lots of electronics for lots of OEMs, so their strong arm tactics probably affect what you buy whether it's apple or not.
  • What a load of BS

    I mean really...who is naive to believe this story? There is no
    mention of it on any mainstream news source and only from
    tech sites like this one that quote the VentureBeat article
    which has no source cited for the story.

    Prototypes aren't even created or specified at factories.
    • Look like

      a Apple Fanboy. i am sure if you dig a little, you will find that Apple is probably preventing the story going general public.

      But is does not change the fact that apple is a bad compnay
      • It's easier to find conspiracy

        Not that we know what really happened, so it's easier to blame Apple. I mean, taking the tin foil hat off, this guy was facing certain job loss, irrespective of him losing the Apple prototype or the prototype of any other companies device, he would have been fired. Now he certainly wouldn't be the first person in the world to commit suicide over the prospects of losing ones job.

        IMHO trying to place (or even hint at) blame on Apple, with such limited facts, is irresponsible. Is ZDNET now a tabloid?
        • You Got It !

          Yes, with people like Jason writing for them, ZDNet is essentially a

          He just blamed an American company for the suicide of a Chinese kid.

          Yellow Journalism has a new Poster Boy !

          Given the way Chinese society apparently works, while it's possible he
          committed suicide, it's also possible he either had help or was
          browbeaten into it to cover up somebody else's mistake.
      • No, it looks like

        a troll is loose again. Mectron, just shut your pie hole... you drone on incessantly about how bad of a company Apple is yet offer no reason.

        And none of this changes the fact you are a horrible speller.

        Use the spell check, give some reasons, or just troll elsewhere.
  • Lost 4G could cost Apple millions, worth millions to rivals - NT

  • I think someone has this story confused.

    Japanese are more likely to commit suicide when this stuff happens.. not chinese. Its more likely he was helped off the balcony by overzealous chinese officials.

    Bribary is king in countries like that. You dont mess with their money.
    • Really?

      p.s. I won't disagree with you totally, Japan has a very high rate and they seem to be more culturally tolerant of it. But let's face it, ANYONE could commit suicide, especially with the prospects of losing a job and being young which this guy was.
      • Not sure I buy the stats from the link...

        I would bet some of those suicides are murder, Beijing is a big tourist attraction, it would not look good if they had a high murder rate.

        They would not be the first or only one to
        adjust the stats to meet their needs.
        Detroit is famous for not reporting all the murders that occur within the city limits.
        • You know what they say about stats

          Yeah stats can be fudged. Doesn't matter. Not knowing the actual details suggesting it was murder is pure speculation at best at this point. And trying to form any causative link between Apple's security policy and this unfortunate death is just, well, I don't know. I would call it trolling for hits but that may be too nice a term.
  • Jason, please just do it already. Admit you're a Microsoft shill.

    To use this tragedy to bag on Apple is reprehensible. I am tired of your postings to make Apple look bad. This is a China issue. Not an Apple issue.

    Holy cow am I glad I don't live in China or work for a Chinese company!

    And gee wiz I wish Jason would just stop using Apple all together and report on his favorite company, Microsoft, instead of haranguing Apple.
    No More Microsoft Software Ever!
    • I second that

      It's a pity ZDNet doesn't have a Mod system.

      Of course, if readers could vote up or down on articles, this would end up
      being a very different site.

      They get a LOT of clicks by first, posting contentious articles to attract
      readers, and second, tolerating contentious posters that generate

      • I third that. "ZDNet ethics" is an oxymoron.

        And everybody knows you shouldn't give oxy to morons. This was so far
        below the belt, it struck oil.
        Jeff Dickey
        • And a fourth...

          It's ridiculous to say that Apple is even REMOTELY responsible for this kid's death. He worked at a factory making iPhones, lost one (or sold it, or gave it away, or something), got caught (turned himself in, whatever) and died (by suicide or otherwise).

          Tell me, in all seriousness, how Apple could have had ANYTHING to do with this. I'm quite sure that Apple never said, "Hey...if any of these prototypes get out we're going to come over there with a team of mercenaries and wipe you guys out!"

          What a joke. I worked at an advertising agency and I lost the files for the design of the new agency website that I was working on for 3 1/2 weeks. My boss was pissed and told me I had to remake the designs. If I had killed myself, would that agency have been responsible for my death? No.

          If I were Apple and I saw this bogus insinuation, I'd have a lawyer on the phone with ZDNet so fast it would make their heads spin.

          Wow. Way to drop off the respect scale ZDNet. Super low blow there. Jeeze.
  • Iphone 4G should be renamed

    I think that if this is true Apple should reconsider the next Iphone name to be Iphone SUN!!!
  • RE: Chinese worker commits suicide after losing prototype iPhone 4G

    One cannot ascribe this suicide to
    Apple but one can ascribe this
    behaviour to the idea of FACE and in
    China losing this idea of dignity and
    competence publicly is enough for
    someone to consider gaining it back
    through suicide. It is an ancient
    tradition uncommon but here is an
    example of maintaining family
    honour. Personally I wish that we used
    such an out more often here. Perhaps
    we would have fewer sleazy executives
    and investment consultants ripping off
    old folks as they would have but one
    exit strategy after being caught in a