iPhone turns 5 years old - 5 memories Apple would rather forget
By Mark Brown 28 June 2012
Game Name: iPhone 4S | Manufacturer: Apple | Format: iPhone
The iPhone's incredible success has been well documented. In fact, every Apple keynote is prefaced with a list of ever-increasing numbers representing stats, sales, customers, and app downloads.

But, the road to fame has not always been so smooth for the iPhone. In the last five years, Apple has had to deal with criticism, controversy, class-action lawsuits, allegations, and lost prototypes.

These are five things that Apple will probably choose to forget as it celebrates the iPhone's fifth birthday tomorrow (June 29th).



Apple is a company know for security. Prototypes are stored in windowless rooms, and secret documents are locked down tighter than Fort Knox.

That all counted for nothing, though, when iPhone engineer Gray Powell dropped his super-secret iPhone 4 prototype on the floor of a Redwood City bar after an evening of boozing. Whoops.

Some opportunistic chap 'found' it, adhered to the time-honoured tradition of 'finders, keepers', and sold it to website Gizmodo for $1,000. The resulting blog post was one of the hottest stories the site ever published.

Apple wasn't best pleased. It asked to have the phone back, but even when Gizmodo handed over the ill-gotten gadget, officers from the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team task force raided the home of Gizmodo's Jason Chen and confiscated all his computers.

In the end, Chen walked away without any charges. The district attorney cited California's shield law, which protects the confidentiality of journalists' sources. The guy who found the phone was hit with a misdemeanour charge, mind.



Apple didn't have much more luck when the device Gizmodo sensationally leaked to the world (see above) actually launched. Within days of the iPhone 4's debut, a few bloggers found that the phone's data and internet speeds plummeted if you fondled the handset's aluminium band in a certain way.

It was soon dubbed the "death grip", and YouTube became flush with videos of people caressing their iPhone to replicate the bug on camera.

After rumours of a worldwide product recall, Apple called an emergency press conference, and Steve Jobs strutted on stage. After snitching on other phones with the same attenuation issue, and showing off Apple's sci-fi antenna testing lab, he promised to give away rubber cases to help ease the pain.

That didn't stop a class-action lawsuit from being levelled at Apple. When it was finally settled in February 2012, a few customers walked away with an impressive $15.



Security researchers, who were having a root around in the system files of an iPhone, found that the device had a fantastic knack for tracking your every movement. In fact, the iPhone kept a log of every location you had visited in the last 12 months.

Apple soon responded on the matter. It said that it likes to keep a list of recent and local cellular towers so that your iPhone can quickly determine its current location. Only, it was supposed to hold a week's worth of data - a bug caused it to track you for an entire year.

Apple fixed the bug, and sent out an emergency update for iOS 4. In a follow-up firmware patch, Apple made sure that your location log was locked away from prying eyes.



Gaming copycats are not exclusive to the iPhone. Ever since Pong ripped off the table tennis game on Magnavox Odyssey, lazy developers have borrowed ideas from best-selling games.

But, the iPhone's low barriers to entry and the ease with which studios can sneak copyright-infringing titles past Apple's nose has led to a rush of clones and copycats.

We had Capcom's MaXplosion - a game about a jittery red man who self-detonated to jump. A bit like Xbox Live's 'Splosion Man, which Capcom reportedly passed on publishing.

We saw Papa Quash - a physical party game that bears more than a passing resemblance to indie darling J.S. Joust. Vlambeer, meanwhile, had two of its games pilfered - Super Crate Box was the inspiration behind Muffin Knight, and Radical Fishing got turned into Ninja Fishing.

And then there's Gameloft - a titan of the mobile industry, which is dedicated to making very pretty versions of console blockbusters like Halo, Call of Duty, and Uncharted. Gameloft's defence? If console developers are not going to make their games on iOS, we'll do it for them.



It's no secret that your expensive Apple toy is assembled by employees operating under some seriously questionable working conditions. The Chinese plants responsible for your device have a history of cramped living areas, underage workers, staff injuries, and even suicides.

It's perhaps a little unfair to put all the blame on Apple. Companies like HP, Dell, and Microsoft use the same Chinese sweatshop, the infamous Foxconn, to produce their goods, too.

But, Apple has been hit by the mob the hardest. To its credit, though, it has pledged to sort the problem out. It now performs audits on its supply chain to monitor working conditions, and joined the Fair Labour Association for independent reviews of its practices.

Foxconn photo CC-licensed from Flickr.com user jurvetson.
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