Gray Powell – Apple’s 2nd most famous employee

Thanks to Gray Powell, Apple've ゲットした another chance with the iPhone HD

If you hopped onto Apple’s hayride because of the iPhone, you are as Apple-y as any wannabe slate manufacturer out there. I mean, Apple haven’t always been the good-natured corporate pounding-hammer that they are now. They used to give it to Mr. ATT; now, they take it from him. Before you react though, hear me out. Undoubtedly, you’re more than aware of the now-pedestrian story of Gray Powell, the lout who lost the iPhone 4G/HD prototype.

The 27-year old engineer and his precious cargo were given the slip by some keen German suds – if there is anything educational here, it is that drinking and the guarding of top-secret hardware are as fitting bedfellows as famous athletes and hot models. Apparently, Gray is still employed at Apple, however.  At least on the surface, Gray seems to be getting the comfy chair treatment in comparison to his other comrade.

I’ve a couple of theories as to why. Firstly, Apple can’t afford to let Gray go – the entire commiserate interweb would buoy him up on a giant v-fingered hand. The Man – in this case, Apple – would be forced to take him back, pulling the millstone of a drinker’s boycott after it. Secondly, Gray has done more for Apple’s next big design than any over-worked artsy-fartsy type at Apple.

The simple act of leaving the iPhone 4G at the pub has netted Apple so much free publicity and generated far more interest about their next device. The you-and-I public: there’s no more need for guessing; Press: there’s no need to etch-a-sketch clever iPhone 4G designs. We’ve seen the next iPhone and opined.

I don’t particularly find the prototype overly attractive, but I’m sure it’ll grow on me. Maybe it’s that the gappy, criss-crossed lines remind me of anything but Apple; more probable however, I was just expecting something like this last year. At least the new, flat iPhone won’t spin its way off a table. Nope, it’ll gouge teak into strips before that happens. That and if the iPhone HD really is packing a 960*640 pixel screen, it’ll garner lots of positive press — that is, if it looks good too.

My opinion may be nothing but a minority report, but now it’s Apple’s turn to bone up. Gray has churned up the river bottom, scattering mire and crayfish every which way. Apple, you now have the weight of the interweb’s love and scorn behind your design. Just don’t throw a hissy fit over a load of free publicity. As Forest Gump hinted, “shit happens”. Sometimes, it’s for the best.

You’ve never had such widespread input on an upcoming product; each new iThing is as usually as guarded as Samsung’s monopoly.

So while you pontificate about how to colour Gray’s backside, bone up on people’s reaction to the iPhone 4G on Twitter, Facebook and the interweb – it’s a chance you may never again have. Well, what can you do in just a few short days?

But while Gray’s been making week-high digital waves, I can’t help but wonder about the real Apple. No, not the company, the men who started it. There are two Steves there – or at least there were. Technically speaking, Steve Wozniak, the man who co-founded Apple is still an employee. He also happens to be ostracised by the other Steve. He’s been as pivotal to personal computing as Nintendo is to console gaming; his innovations have moused us into the 21st century and will continue.

Unfortunately, he isn’t active at Cupertino anymore. He dances, pontificates, and more recently, makes humorous rumble as a guest on blogs and newshours. He’s like Apple’s The Edge, except that he’s no longer allowed to play guitar. Still, Wozniak commands a LOT of geek whuffie in and out of Apple fandom. While Jobs will be winding up audiences at the magical 2010 WWDC, its Wozniak’s reactions that I’ll be paying attention to.

Then, when June 11 rolls around and the world is back on its rocker, Apple may have a lot of apologising to do. To Gray, to the interweb and maybe even Jason Chen, and really, to the Woz who’s stayed loyal all these years even after Jobs’ rebranding of the word ‘greedy’.

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