Foxconn worker commits suicide after losing iPhone prototype

Apple's a company well known for secrecy; you'll know so after having read the article we posted about it not too long ago. Though, can this obsession with secrecy actually be harmful to a human being? Digital Beat has evidence that proves that it might well be.

Sun Danyong, a 25-year-old worker in technology giant Foxconn's product communications department, recently got into a bit of trouble after one of the iPhone prototypes he was meant to take care of went missing. Once news of the disappearance got out, Danyong's apartment was 'illegally searched' by employees of the company, and according to "unsubstantiated allegations" he was detained and even physically abused. Then, shortly after 3:30 in the morning on July 16, he jumped from his apartment window.

This is really quite a disturbing event; when a person believes that ending their own life is better than the punishment they'll receive from their employer, it's taken too far. Clearly, Apple takes secrecy very seriously, and Foxconn would wish to make dead sure that their relationship is kept healthy, but this is a step that is way too far. It's not clear whether Danyong got caught up in what was just a mistake, or if he actually intended to leak some details about the device, but nobody will know for sure now.

You'll remember that Apple has dropped manufacturers for its devices before, after having leaked details early, so a company will keep it in their best interests to ensure things are well, but this is an over-reaction. Hopefully we'll get more details on this shortly, be it from Foxconn, Apple, or otherwise.

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Foxconn is based on China

Based on that alone, suicide was probably his most logical course of action over disappearing and being murdered/put through their phoney court and then being murdered.

By doing this, he has put Foxconn in the spotlight. Who knows how many other people have "disappeared".

i must say. that is pretty intense. i'd like to hear it on the next anti-ipod/phone parody. perhaps simpsons will riddle us with some humor laced with moral obligation?

To those that say there is no proof. Lets highlight three pieces of information.

1.) "recently got into a bit of trouble after one of the iPhone prototypes"
2.) "Danyong's apartment was 'illegally searched' by employees of the company"
3.) "he was detained and even physically abused."

Those three things are enough to say the guy was not just some mental case that just happened to working with iPhone prototypes. Plus would you put a mental case in charge of something as valuable as iPhone prototypes?

This really goes to show you Apple's secrecy is downright ridiculous. So what is the media learns of a new feature they are going to be adding to the iPhone, iMac, OSX, ect. It is no where near more important than someones life, or job.

I mean look at Apple, they kept Job's health issues and surgeries hush hush and are now looking at charges for not letting share holders know about Job's health condition. If I was a shareholder I would want to know about the CEO's health condition. Especially a CEO like Job's.

The fact that Foxconn had to take such measures to keep Apple happy and as a customer is very sad. The family of Sun Danyong need to sue Apple and Foxconn for all their worth. They lost a family member over Apple's madness with secrecy.

I can't wait to see Apple's comment on this. We will soon see how far they are going to twist this to make it Sun Danyong's fault and not their own. And let me add, Just another reason why I don't buy from Apple.

WTF... I'm sorry but a life is worth more than losing a prototype phone... Man he must have been really desperate to do something like that.

Whoa, hold on, no one said this happened in China of all places (and no, I had no idea which country Foxconn were based in). Somehow this sounds more credible now...

LAWL
Why did the guy have the prototype in the first place? Talk about secrecy when you allow your top-of-the-line prototype to be taken outside of the office.

According to local Chinese language media like the ultra-nationalist Wenweipo, the suicide was a Chinese national surnamed Sun who worked in Foxconn's Shenzhen office in China (just across border from Hong Kong). Foxconn admitted regret, dismissd the security officer in charge, and turned the case over to China's Public Security Administration.

http://news.wenweipo.com/2009/07/22/IN0907220006.htm

Maybe sendinga message to the other 'monkeys'?:
Old Chinese saying: "Kill a chicken, let the monkey's watch".

Or for those who enjoy a good conspiracy theory:
Might have something do with the announced plan to launch the iPhone 3G in China this September... perhaps certain parties aren't happy with their red envelopes and might use something like this to fan the flames against Apple.

http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/mobileadvisor/n...d=119020&ma

Cheers

"Clearly, Apple takes secrecy very seriously, and Foxconn would wish to make dead sure that their relationship is kept healthy,"

LMAO

Sure, they make "dead sure"...

I've heard about MS killing 2 people in the past and I never thought Apple would be behind some of this type of stuff too.

This sounds like a case for the Lone Gunmen...

Calum said,
I'd like to see proof of MS killing two people in the past, please. I don't believe that statement.

Stress has been linked to heart attacks. You ever run Windows 98?

*sign* what is too far is this article. There is no evidence the reason he jumped was because of the lost prototype, there could of been other underlying issues in his life and the lost prototype was the final straw that pushed him over the edge. This is the media working at it's finest, getting a tiny bit of info and blowing it way out of proportion as usual...

Wow, I guess I won't be working for apple then...I know they manufacture iPhones in a factory that is practically a city in itself where workers live there too. Not only Apple is using that factory but Dell also. I forgot what it's called tho.

qdave said,
The guy is at fault...but apple is no saint either.

The company can always fire/sue him about that...instigating people for a missing phone is way too much. Leaving the death to that person to the authorities and not speculating about it, that is...

... This thread is so not full of trolls that I am full of hope for humanity after reading it.

Yeah, so Apple is at fault for pushing their manufacturers to keep their prototypes. Tell me, what should they have done to prevent this incident, if it really happened like this?

If this is true and if we really have to lay the blame, I'd feel that Foxconn is the bad guy for so desperately trying to hold on to its Apple orders - not like their labour record is all that clean anyway.

Looking forward to the Apple / Steve Jobs jokes that are sure to pop up in a thread like this...

Grow up, people.

I believe the people in this thread weren't blaming Apple for the treatment or death of that Foxconn employee. They were saying that, if this article is true, then Apple should have publicly denounced Foxconn's actions and severed ties with them. But they didn't, or haven't yet, so hence the "jokes".

wctaiwan said,
... This thread is so not full of trolls that I am full of hope for humanity after reading it.

Yeah, so Apple is at fault for pushing their manufacturers to keep their prototypes. Tell me, what should they have done to prevent this incident, if it really happened like this?

If this is true and if we really have to lay the blame, I'd feel that Foxconn is the bad guy for so desperately trying to hold on to its Apple orders - not like their labour record is all that clean anyway.

Looking forward to the Apple / Steve Jobs jokes that are sure to pop up in a thread like this...

Grow up, people.

Grow up? I've only seen a few jokes being made, the rest have been just explaining their opinions on this tragedy that has happened. Most believe Apple should severe ties with Foxconn, I agree... but no apple/steve jobs jokes have really been made... so maybe you should read all the comments first to see what the majority are stating. Okay? Thanks.

Think Different*

*As long as you think exactly the way we want you to or we'll push you out of your apartment window.

I can now claim, apples can't choke people to death or hurt them to death, however it can make them commit suicide

It would be in Apple's best interests to threaten to discontinue their relationship with Foxconn for instilling this much fear in their employee.

A gadet prototype or a human life. Disturbing where some people put their priorities.

This article could be BS for all I know. The trouble is that being Apple related I can believe it. These individuals seem to follow Jobs around like he is a messianic messenger. It really is in some ways a cult. This story will die a quick death even if it is true.

bluarash said,
This article could be BS for all I know. The trouble is that being Apple related I can believe it. These individuals seem to follow Jobs around like he is a messianic messenger. It really is in some ways a cult. This story will die a quick death even if it is true.

Yeah, all those workers at foxconn chained to their desks are just apple cult members, they only get paid in photos of steve, and employee of the month get a locket of hair.

It take a special person to turn this around onto jobs. I certainly have never seen anyone do that to Microsoft...

No, the moronic individuals who create the social phenomenon known as the Apple Cult actually create pressure that is externally applied to organization that oversee the production or testing of units. They are not actually part of the cult but viewed as "subhuman trash" that can be toyed with however they want. I really doubt anyone who owns an Apple product really has any idea were a majority of the manufacturing and testing of their device takes place.

I think it would be safe to say that all tech companies and this includes Apple, have a history of physically or emotional exploiting areas that don't have worker protection laws like saw the UK or United States.

So, no in summary I doubt anyone at Foxconn really cared that deeply about the prototype of the iphone. It was a paycheck. This is pretty much how it is for most Apple developers. It's all about the money.

The same can not be said for the news media and buyers of Apple products. To them it is an art form and a way of life. A bit pathetic that one actually rationalizes themselves through an external object that inexpensive and mass produced as any tech product (but that is an argument for another day).

"Mr Sun had committed suicide by jumping off a building after stabbing himself multiple times and shooting himself in the back. It is unknown where he hid the weapons."

Whilst I don't think I could follow though with it, I have had times where I have been so stressed out and not actually having anyone else to turn to that makes suicide actually seems like a viable option. I really couldn't see myself going that far but I think you need to be under that pressure before being able to understand his actions.

SK[ said,]Whilst I don't think I could follow though with it, I have had times where I have been so stressed out and not actually having anyone else to turn to that makes suicide actually seems like a viable option. I really couldn't see myself going that far but I think you need to be under that pressure before being able to understand his actions.

I have known people like that, get easily stressed. Just need to remember your job is not worth it, it is not that important. If this prototype got out, the world would move on, everybody would get over it. It would be good in a way, because you would get see these new features incorporated into Microsoft products that much quicker :-)

cakesy said,
I have known people like that, get easily stressed. Just need to remember your job is not worth it, it is not that important. If this prototype got out, the world would move on, everybody would get over it. It would be good in a way, because you would get see these new features incorporated into Microsoft products that much quicker :-)

Would you feel the same way if your job instead was in China, and that you could be MURDERED for a mistake?

Forgive my ignorance, but surely they can use MobileMe or something familiar to track down the prototype iPhone? Committing suicide is way, -way- too far.

The Teej said,
Forgive my ignorance, but surely they can use MobileMe or something familiar to track down the prototype iPhone? Committing suicide is way, -way- too far.

This was probably an early design prototype, it might not have even switched on. Maybe were you work they produce fully working prototypes.

cakesy said,
This was probably an early design prototype, it might not have even switched on. Maybe were you work they produce fully working prototypes.

Or maybe it was a prototype for the 3GS, or an announced iPhone? Prototype doesn't mean it was an iPhone from 2005 or something.

Also, no need to be so abrasive, I was just asking a question. Are you always this uptight?

While that person may have been under other pressures or even mental illness, the suicide may or may not be related to the iPhone gone missing.

The article's title assumes too much.

However, detaining and illegally searching your employee's apartments should be severely punished.

Well, apparently it was enough to beat the crap out of him. Perhaps when they couldn't find the device on him, they simply took out the trash.

I don't really know the guy at all, but I somehow feel that a company willing to physically abuse him over a non-military prototype would probably have no problem tossing him to his death. Call it crazy speculation or whatever, but I simply don't buy his so-called "suicide".

ajua said,
While that person may have been under other pressures or even mental illness, the suicide may or may not be related to the iPhone gone missing.

The article's title assumes too much.

However, detaining and illegally searching your employee's apartments should be severely punished.

Sadly it won't be punished. It occured in China. The government does the same stuff themselves.

I was wondering what country this took place in - because the illegal search may not have been illegal depending on which country it was performed in.

Still though, if this is true, yeah... priorities are way out of line.

rm20010 said,
Although Foxconn's a Taiwanese company, the plant where this happened may have been in China.


This office is located in Shenzhen (China), not in Taiwan.


hkgonra said,
Corporate espionage is BIG business in Asia. Maybe the biggest and they take it seriously over there.

Seriously enough to murder people even, no wonder he wanted to kill himself. Takes the pleasure out of the sick individual who gets his jollies off killing "enemies of the state".

Same, if they've gone as far as "searching his house" and "abusing him"... then one automaticly assumes that...

I'm sure there will be a company memo soon.
"It appears we are all clear on the seriousness of the company's secrecy policy. Let's not have any more "suicides", capice?"

its a sad time when misplacing an electronic device could cause someone so much fear that they would do such a thing. Especially when it isn't even a major (nuclear guidance or national security) electronic device but simply a fancy telephone.

littleneutrino said,
its a sad time when misplacing an electronic device could cause someone so much fear that they would do such a thing. Especially when it isn't even a major (nuclear guidance or national security) electronic device but simply a fancy telephone.

You wouldn't expect that someone would get fear upon mentioning "democracy" or "freedom". However, in the country where this took place you can get thrown in jail simply for looking at naked women on the internet.

LOL! I re-read the sentence several times as every time I reached the word "dead", I jumped to conclusions of my own and wandered away in my thoughts... 8-)

I noticed that but I'm sure it was just a coincidence and Sam didn't mean anything by it :)

"Dead sure" is a figure of speech widely used.

Avlor said,
OMG, this is crazy as hell.. Ending your life over some gadget prototype.. that's harsh

His whole career would have gone down the toilet; if Apple had any integrity they would have come out and said it was unacceptable behaviour.

it doesn't help though with Jobs fickle attitude where he switches vendors within seconds if he doesn't like something minor about the company.

machinethatgoesbing said,
His whole career would have gone down the toilet; if Apple had any integrity they would have come out and said it was unacceptable behaviour.

it doesn't help though with Jobs fickle attitude where he switches vendors within seconds if he doesn't like something minor about the company.

Yeah, he keeps changing vendors, like this guy from Foxconn, who they have only been with for about 8 years, or the first the ipod. Good point, well made.

machinethatgoesbing said,
His whole career would have gone down the toilet; if Apple had any integrity they would have come out and said it was unacceptable behaviour.

it doesn't help though with Jobs fickle attitude where he switches vendors within seconds if he doesn't like something minor about the company.

If he didn't commit suicide, Foxconn would've helped. They are a chinese company, and it occured in China.

Yeah this article really wasn't written too well. I felt the it had potential but kind of fell flat. The article assumes way too much with how little detail is given.

Danyong's apartment was illegally searched by employees of the company, and according to "unsubstantiated allegations" has was detained and even physically abused.

Yeah that's sounds going a bit too far. Such a big company should have legal key points that determine what could happen if a prototype is lost, why going illegal.

If it happens in the US, you can bet the same thing would happen. Big companies will go to great lengths to protect these sort of trade secrets, especially Apple.