According to Chinese reports, Sun Danyong, a Chinese worker at Foxconn, a major electronics manufacturer for Apple, committed suicide after being held responsible for losing the top secret fourth-generation iPhone prototype. At only 25 years old and a recent engineering graduate, I can’t imagine how frightened Danyong must’ve been to go as far as commit suicide over a lost phone. No matter how extreme Foxconn or Apple may have been in protecting its upcoming products, this type of paranoia just goes too far.

Although multiple reports of this incident are circulating around Chinese press, there isn’t any report of it from the English-language press yet, besides blogs such as DigitalBeat. News reports claim that on Thursday, July 9, Danyong received 16 4G prototype phones, and a few days later, he realized one of them was missing. On Monday, July 13, he reported the missing phone, and on Wednesday, July 15, Foxconn employees illegally broke into his apartment to search for the phone.  On Thursday, July 16, he leapt from the window of his apartment, committing suicide.

As DailyTech reports, the security division at Foxconn has been suspended without pay.  DailyTech also includes a quote by a Chinese blogger and marketer, Steven Lin, which gives good insight into the circumstance and mentality of Danyong:

“Students [like Sun] have been studying in schools for years, and they have been carefully protected by their parents. They can’t endure such pressure – ‘their house being illegally searched,’ or ‘house arrests’ (if that’s true, according some reports news). Employees at these and other factories sometimes kill themselves simply because of the pressure from their daily jobs — you know what’s going to happen when they face more serious threats. Also, most young Chinese guys don’t have friends who are lawyers, so they don’t know how to protect themselves in the legal system. They won’t even look for help from the legal system. They will just endure the pressure, and finally find an extreme way to end all their troubles.

Since it’s an isolated incident, it’s hard to put the blame on anyone, although DigitalBeat reports how there are rumors that Danyong was detained and physically abused during investigation. It’s pretty ridiculous how Apple’s products are treated like sacred entities these days. I mean, I understand its hype — it’s the 4G! But c’mon, it’s also just a friggin’ phone.


Photo of rumored iPhone 4G concept from Gizmodo

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