Apple, Don’t Fire Gray … Give Him a Raise!

Apple, Don't Fire Gray ... Give Him a Raise!

Gray Powell, the Apple employee outed by Gizmodo for losing the next-generation iPhone prototype, is probably not having his best week ever. After all, Apple is known for their secrecy, and they expected the utmost of care when prototypes were taken outside of their facility — witness the elaborate 3GS disguise Gray’s phone was found wearing. As the world now knows, Gray managed to lose his prototype, ultimately resulting in it being sold to the highest (or only) bidder – Gizmodo. We’re sure he’ll probably lose his job, and he may be in even more trouble than simply economic … who knows what the litigious Apple might dream up, short of putting Gray’s head on a pike as a warning to all who enter Cupertino. Yes, there are likely several people living in or around Cupertino who are not having a good week because of Gray’s screw-up.

And what a screw-up it was.

There is another way one might look at this, however. One could argue that Apple should pat Gray on the back, give him a raise, and say “thank you, thank you, thank you!” Because Gray’s forgetfulness, neglect, drunken idiocy on his 27th birthday — whatever you want to call it —  has actually achieved a great deal for Apple. They have been dominating the media cycle for the last four days, once again.

Let’s look at how this plays out.

Right before CES, Apple announced that they were going to have a special meeting … and everyone’s educated guess was that Apple would finally announce their tablet. Apple’s tablet cloud hung over CES the entire time; we know — we were there! Shortly thereafter Apple announced the iPad, and for the next weeks it dominated the technology sites. When the iPad finally came out, it dominated the technology media cycle once again. No sooner was the iPad out and in the middle of its own media frenzy, did Apple announced that they were having another news conference. At that news conference they announced iPhone OS 4.0, and for the next week or so they dominated the news cycle yet again. Last Tuesday they upgraded the hardware of the MacBook Pro line, and for a few days they buzzed the media cycle again, but it was rather ho-hum in comparison. And yes, Apple also got a little more traction by announcing that they would be having a gathering late June (hello iPhone!), but between now and then — other than the release of the 3G iPad at the end of April — not much else was expected from Apple.

Nothing exciting, that is, until Applegate occurred this past weekend. On Saturday and Sunday the blogosphere was filled with news and debate over whether or not the piece of hardware that was found in a bar was new hardware for the iPhone. By Monday morning. It was clear that it was indeed the next generation iPhone, and the news kept pouring in. Only now there was a big difference — the news was not only coming out of the blogosphere, it was coming from mainstream news channels as well. All anyone was talking about was and is the next generation iPhone. And today, once again, when we look at our RSS feeds and Twitterstream — from every corner of the web and from every type of site — there is discussion about the fourth generation iPhone, the circumstances under which it was found, and what it means for the iPhone brand.

Let’s face it, Apple may be fuming because their usual secrecy was blown apart by Gray’s unfortunate birthday mishap, but because of that mistake they have received more PR attention than they could ever have purchased. Even with the greatest PR company, with the hippest and costliest ad campaign, there is nothing that could have possibly garnered them more attention than this one simple mistake.

Apple, Don't Fire Gray ... Give Him a Raise!
Gray Powell, possible recipient of the 2011 Addy Award?

We suspect that many of you, like the entire Gear Diary Team, can’t help but wonder — even if only just a tiny bit — whether this was truly a mistake or whether this was an elaborate hoax engineered by Apple to judge the public’s reaction to a drastic redesign on their only model mobile phone. Our opinions are mixed, because this type of concern for the buying public’s opinion has never been shown by Apple. So if this truly was a pure mistake by a celebrating Apple Software Engineer, then it should still go down as one of the most unforgettable (even if unintentional) marketing campaigns ever. Once Apple has stopped beating Gray up for his careless mistake, they ought quietly give him a gold star and a bit of job security, because $49 billion in cash could never buy as much attention as he got them for free.

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.

19 Comments on "Apple, Don’t Fire Gray … Give Him a Raise!"

  1. RT @geardiary: Apple, Don't Fire Gray … Give Him a Raise!

  2. Apple, Don’t Fire Gray … Give Him a Raise!

  3. RT @BreakingGadgets: Apple, Don’t Fire Gray … Give Him a Raise! via .. say what?

  4. RT @BreakingGadgets: Apple, Don’t Fire Gray … Give Him a Raise! via .. ..say what?

  5. RT @BreakingGadgets: Apple, Don’t Fire Gray … Give Him a Raise! via .. ..say what?

  6. Francis Scardino | April 20, 2010 at 1:55 pm |

    How do you top your recent iPad release campaign? Give your code writer a prototype phone and send him out to the pub. Priceless. Im gonna keep my doubts on this one as completely being a mistake. Nicely done Dan.

  7. Craig McClellan | April 20, 2010 at 1:59 pm |

    RT @BreakingGadgets: Apple, Don’t Fire Gray … Give Him a Raise! via

  8. RT @GearDiarySite: Apple, Don’t Fire Gray … Give Him a Raise!

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  14. Apple, Don’t Fire Gray … Give Him a Raise! from @iNewsApp

  15. Just out of curiosity, does anyone else have a “moral” problem with what went down here? Ordinarily, to retrieve something of value out of a “Lost and Found”, you would need to identify it. Instead, this cell phone was apparently sold to the highest bidder and splashed around the Internet. On top of that, the poor individual who lost the precious phone was identified.

    If I lost my cell phone in a bar, and someone actually managed to identify it as mine, I would like to hope that they would return it. That should apply whether my phone is a POS Nokia flip phone (which it is) or some whizz bang new phone.

    Has Gizmodo called up Apple (or Gray Powell) and offered to return it? Personally, I don’t read Gizmodo ever since they pulled the TV power-off stunts at CES (some trade show) a few years back.

    I certainly appreciate tech news of all sorts, but this just sorta seemed to come across as a bit slimy.

  16. Apple, Don't Fire Gray … Give Him a Raise! | Gear Diary: Right before CES, Apple announced that they were go…

  17. mcsouth, I totally agree. This is one of those times where if you could see the things we were saying behind the scenes …

    Anyway. The whole story is skeevy, from the dude who basically stole the phone from the bar (why not just turn it into the bartender, if he truly meant to return it to its owner) and then shopped it to the highest bidder, to Gizmodo paying for the story. I am sure Gizmodo considers it the best $5K (to $10K – depending upon which site is reporting) they ever spent. But it’s ethically and morally skeevy. There is no way around it.

  18. From Blogs: Apple, Don't Fire Gray … Give Him a Raise! | Gear Diary: Gray Powell, the Apple employee outed … #iphone

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