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. 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.