Did Apple's Secretive Culture Kill a Chinese Worker?

Apple is famously hostile to leaks; to keep secrets, the company sued a teenaged blogger and lied about its CEO's health. This paranoid culture's new poster boy: a Chinese engineer who has killed himself after losing an iPhone prototype.



Sun Danyong, 25, recently jumped out the window of his apartment building to his death, VentureBeat reports. The engineer had just has his apartment illegally searched and may have been detained and abused by his employer, Apple manufacturing contractor Foxconn, after he lost one of 16 prototypes for a fourth-generation iPhone. Sun's frantic efforts to find the missing phone at a factory in Shenzhen, China had been unsuccessful.

Danyong was likely vulnerable because he was a recent college graduate, with little experience in China's high-pressure workforce, according to a Chinese blogger quoted by Venture Beat. But the case, which has been covered widely in the Chinese press, inevitably underlines Apple's drive to keep new products under wraps; public unveilings bring the company oodles of free press.

There's also a downside of being a press obsession: Scrutiny of Apple's suppliers, including high-security dormitory factories in China, which Apple has "investigated" in response to press accounts. Another investigation, into Sun's case, is in order.