Home > Kahindik-hindik > apple should immediately fire gray powell from his job

apple should immediately fire gray powell from his job

gray powell, the apple engineer who lost the iPhone 4th generation prototype should be fired from his job at apple.

he was totally irresponsible for losing that prototype. he has exposed apple’s trade secrets and the key components of their marketing strategies to competitors before the product was launched.

this is not just a cute media scoop where apple, a most secretive company, was exposed in media not on its own doing and not in its own terms but by “accident”, one committed by one of its engineers.

the effect is that it allowed apple’s competitors the best view ever in a product that apple is still about to be launched. the reason product design templates and concepts are being kept secret is to ensure your competitors do not know these so that they cannot pre-empt your efforts.

one of the most important and most successful strategies in marketing is to be the first in offering something to consumers.  not only do you want to be first, you want to be first to offer the feature or design for as long as you can. competition may eventually catch up or copy the new feature in some way, but getting ahead of them captures core users and puts you ahead of everyone else.

that intent is also one of the reasons why you patent your designs and get copyright on stuff that you make. you do not  want others having the same thing you have labored for.

that is called competitive advantage. apple is famous for competitive advantage and its previous successes  were  largely founded on it. in fact, a lot of it is founded on superior competitive advantage.  apple products succeed not only because they are superior, but equally important they are unique in the market place. there is great value in being the best and being first, a marketing 101.

just look at the app store and itunes. they are mostly unique and it enjoys until now a superior competitive advantage. just imagine  how different it would be for  apple if the itunes and app store ideas were leaked to the press and apples competitors before they were launched.

because apple had competitive advantage and was the first on those two, these have propped apple, its ipod and iphone businesses to success, translating to huge revenues and even bigger profits.

look no further, the iphone, exactly the prototype that powell lost in that california bar is probably the best example of what secrecy and competitive advantage gives a brand.

a big part of the magic of the iphone to consumers was it’s uniqueness in the market place. that uniqueness was founded on the fact that apple’s competitors did not have a product quite like it.

apple products are known for their superior design and ability to satisfy consumer needs and wants with both almost always being the first to do so in a most effective way. getting the prototype out enabled it’s competitors to remove the advantage.

one of the unique features of the iphone 4G that we now know is a second camera at the face of  the handset. no other mobile handset has that feature. with apple’s competitors knowing this now, how many of them are now designing new models with the same feature? would they have thought of it if we did not know about it when powell misplaced the prototype handset? or of they already had plans for it, knowing that apple will have it soon is good reason for them to speed up their own plans on having the same feature in their upcoming new handsets.

the prototype was lost on march 28 but we read about the loss only recently. that is a very long time for a prototype to be studied and figured out by engineers. there must be in someone’s computer a list of new design elements and new features of the yet to be released iphone 4G.

there are 2 key components in any electronic product – its  physical components and software. the physical components gives you more than half of the features of the electronic gear. it can tell you capabilities, features and performance.  gizmodo did take the prototype apart. they now know everything that the iphone 4G can do.

the loss of the iphone prototype and the subsequent release of its features to its competitors has a very direct impact on the business of apple. apple should respond accordingly by firing  powell from his job for risking the iphone business, a core business for the company.

can powell ever be trusted again in apple? we do not think so. his peers and supervisors at apple would not be able to trust him again. it will also be foolish for apple to trust him again with anything.

powell put at risk 40% of apple’s total revenues as the iphone now accounts for that much based on apple’s 2nd quarter financial release announced recently. in other words, powell had in his hand a substantial slice of the business of the company that paid powell’s salary. he had in his hands at least 40% of apple’s future business whose trade secrets may now very well be in the hands of apple’s competitors.

we think it is the duty of apple to it’s stockholders and employees to fire powell from his job. in fact we think powell should be held criminally liable for the potential loss of business for apple.

anyone who owns an AAPL stock should complain to apple and demand that they fire powell from his job. powell put investments on AAPL at high risk.

(disclosure: we are a long term holder of AAPL stocks)

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new developments :

april 27, 2010:

~~wawam~~

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  1. BarryG
    April 24, 2010 at 11:47 pm | #1

    I do not think Mr. Powell should be fired as it serves no real purpose to do so. It appears that Mr. Powell has been an otherwise productive and trusted employee. Apple would not have trusted him with such a precious product if it were otherwise. There is no reason to believe that Mr. Powell made anything other than an error that any human, no matter how careful and responsible, is capable of making. I doubt highly Mr. Powell would make a repeat error and firing him means replacing him with someone else who is not trained and not proven trustworthy. In my opinion, firing Mr. Powell would just satisfy the human instinct for revenge and no one would benefit.

    A number of years ago an incident happened in my work arena where an otherwise competent and trusted employee inadvertently lost a notebook at an airport. The book contained exam questions for an upcomming exam to needed to qualify for a very difficult federal licence. The exam had to be recreated from scratch at the cost of a few thousand manhours. This employee was fired although he had already proven himself over many years of service and was surely unlikely to make the same mistake again. We lost a good, competent, trusted, proven employee for making a mistake anyone is capable of. No one gained anything by firing him but his competent productivity was certainly missed.

  2. morales
    April 25, 2010 at 6:59 am | #2

    i agree powell should be fired from his job. the prototype has in it apple’s trade secrets and gave it away.

  3. April 25, 2010 at 10:27 am | #3

    BarryG :

    I do not think Mr. Powell should be fired as it serves no real purpose to do so. It appears that Mr. Powell has been an otherwise productive and trusted employee. Apple would not have trusted him with such a precious product if it were otherwise. There is no reason to believe that Mr. Powell made anything other than an error that any human, no matter how careful and responsible, is capable of making. I doubt highly Mr. Powell would make a repeat error and firing him means replacing him with someone else who is not trained and not proven trustworthy. In my opinion, firing Mr. Powell would just satisfy the human instinct for revenge and no one would benefit.

    A number of years ago an incident happened in my work arena where an otherwise competent and trusted employee inadvertently lost a notebook at an airport. The book contained exam questions for an upcomming exam to needed to qualify for a very difficult federal licence. The exam had to be recreated from scratch at the cost of a few thousand manhours. This employee was fired although he had already proven himself over many years of service and was surely unlikely to make the same mistake again. We lost a good, competent, trusted, proven employee for making a mistake anyone is capable of. No one gained anything by firing him but his competent productivity was certainly missed.

    firing gray powell is not about revenge, it is good business practice. companies protect their trade secrets at all cost. same way as coca-cola will never reveal it’s formula on their sodas.

    firing powell from his job gives what is coming to him. it also sets a good example to apple employees, reminding them that they should take their jobs seriously, making them understand that they have a duty to protect the company’s trade secrets from getting into the hands of its competitors.

    the example you mentioned from the organization you worked in should be exactly what apple should do – fire the irresponsible employee.

    as you yourself relate, the organization needed to re-write the test. that meant your organization spent manhours of duplicate work which were really unnecessary. that has an impact on that organization’s bottom line.

    apple may not be as lucky as the organization you worked for. apple might not be able to “re-write” what they had designed into the iphone 4G prototype. it takes a lot of time and effort to design a mobile handset. it is not something you can just re-write by typing away in a laptop.

  4. April 26, 2010 at 12:34 pm | #4

    I believe that apple in general failed badly in this case.

    Yes, the phone was “lost” by an employee. There is no doubt about that.
    And I also believe that there is a non disclosure agreement (NDA) in Mr.Powells’ contract with apple.

    However, if the phone was so so so important to my business (or to keep its’ specs secret), then I would make sure that NO prototype would EVER leave my building.
    A company of that size can easily afford to enforce such a policy. It has the man- and the brainpower.

    So, after all I think it’s also a resposibility of Mr.Powells’ boss and whoever is in charge of secrecy and security procedures at apple. If they don’t have adequate mechanisms to prevent such issues then it is a very bad sign for the company in general, as they have a variety of competitive products.

    My conclusion is either Apple…
    * .. doesn’t have adequate secrecy mechanism (except NDAs)
    * .. doesn’t think leaking such info is a big problem (lower secrecy standards)
    * .. “leaked” the phone on purpose (am not a fan of conspiracy theories)

    I am leaning towards the first and am curious to see on what extent they will “accuse” Mr.Powell of breaching their rules. There is definitely enough reason to fire him, but there is also enough reason to investigate and talk with many others in the company about their roles too.

  5. April 26, 2010 at 12:38 pm | #5

    He will be fired. This is not acceptable.

    • xyz123
      April 26, 2010 at 2:53 pm | #6

      i wonder why apple has not done so.

  6. xyz123
    April 26, 2010 at 2:58 pm | #7

    MigM :

    I believe that apple in general failed badly in this case.

    Yes, the phone was “lost” by an employee. There is no doubt about that.
    And I also believe that there is a non disclosure agreement (NDA) in Mr.Powells’ contract with apple.

    However, if the phone was so so so important to my business (or to keep its’ specs secret), then I would make sure that NO prototype would EVER leave my building.
    A company of that size can easily afford to enforce such a policy. It has the man- and the brainpower.

    So, after all I think it’s also a resposibility of Mr.Powells’ boss and whoever is in charge of secrecy and security procedures at apple. If they don’t have adequate mechanisms to prevent such issues then it is a very bad sign for the company in general, as they have a variety of competitive products.

    My conclusion is either Apple…
    * .. doesn’t have adequate secrecy mechanism (except NDAs)
    * .. doesn’t think leaking such info is a big problem (lower secrecy standards)
    * .. “leaked” the phone on purpose (am not a fan of conspiracy theories)

    I am leaning towards the first and am curious to see on what extent they will “accuse” Mr.Powell of breaching their rules. There is definitely enough reason to fire him, but there is also enough reason to investigate and talk with many others in the company about their roles too.

    given the security efforts apple imposes on it’s products and product launches, it’s unthinkable that apple allows it’s employees to bring product prototypes out of their offices.

    i am guessing taking the prototype out of apple’s premises is one more infraction powell had committed.

  7. iphone
    April 27, 2010 at 9:16 am | #8

    “one of the unique features of the iphone 4G that we now know is a second camera at the face of the handset. no other mobile handset has that feature. with cpple’s competitors knowing this now, how many of them are now designing new models with the same feature? would they have thought of it if we did not know about it when powell misplaced the prototype handset?”

    I hope this is not the only big secret you are talking about that apple was trying to keep under wraps. It has been known for some time now that Sprint’s new 4G device, the Evo, has a front camera for video chatting…believe it or not Apple is not the first to have this. So lets all get off the Apple bandwagon

  8. mmw
    April 27, 2010 at 3:01 pm | #9

    who are you people to judge if someone has to fired or not? that’s none of your business, this guy is not a criminal he did not kill anyone hey guys you are wasted, in deed, I find also sad that his name has been revealed to the ugly mankind mob,

    after decades in the industry I saw people fired for less and for more nothing.

    you make me blow chunks, you animals.

    • April 27, 2010 at 4:59 pm | #10

      in all the companies i have worked for, an infraction like this gets you fired.

  9. May 15, 2010 at 12:49 pm | #11

    I don’t think firing Powell.Will make Apple’s secrecy on products keeped.
    This might happen again next year.Or next next year.
    So firing Powell is not a good reason.
    Powell is a human.
    Human make errors.Humans are not perfect.
    Apple must gave him another 2nd chance.
    Then when he did it again.then that time.He must be fired.
    This peoples here.Do not care about jobs.Powell is working hard to earn money.
    Then you all people here saying that he must be fired?
    If you are Gray Powell.Do you want to be fired from a multi-billion company??
    Leave the poor guy alone.
    He is a nice guy.
    Leave him.
    Just because of a phone.
    Gray Powell had an mental breakdown.
    Leave Him Alone.

  10. May 15, 2010 at 12:50 pm | #12

    I don’t think firing Powell.Will make Apple’s secrecy on products keeped.
    This might happen again next year.Or next next year.
    So firing Powell is not a good reason.
    Powell is a human.
    Human make errors.Humans are not perfect.
    Apple must gave him another 2nd chance.
    Then when he did it again.then that time.He must be fired.
    This peoples here.Do not care about jobs.Powell is working hard to earn money.
    Then you all people here saying that he must be fired?
    If you are Gray Powell.Do you want to be fired from a multi-billion company??
    Leave the poor guy alone.
    He is a nice guy.
    Leave him.
    Just because of a phone.
    Gray Powell had an mental breakdown.
    Leave Him Alone.

  11. manuel sandoval
    May 16, 2010 at 1:04 pm | #13

    powell is an incompetent and irresponsible employee, he needs to be fired.

  12. martin grooms
    June 7, 2010 at 12:31 am | #14

    Whoever wrote this is clearly an idiot. People make mistakes all the time; including the people who would have fired him directly. Apple has taken the world of multimedia by storm and I don’t think the leak of a barely functioning prototype is going to be enough to cause a tech catastrophe. Someone should fire you for your next mistake, or maybe for your inability to distinguish between robots and humans.

    • June 8, 2010 at 9:35 am | #15

      people who work for companies who make mistakes like these do get fired from their jobs. it is the way of the world. this employee put at risk one of the most important industrial secret of apple.

      in fact the launch of iphone 4 yesterday confirms the leaked iphone prototype is the real thing.

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