iPhone Prototype Seller Speaks: Phones Are Still in Private Hands

By  |  Wednesday, March 11, 2009 at 5:25 pm

iPhone PrototypeAfter reading Harry’s posts about the auctioning of two iPhone prototypes on eBay and auction and accompanying YouTube video being removed at Apple’s request, I decided to dig a little deeper.   Early today, I conducted an interview with the seller of the prototypes, Jon F. (aka $$billions_of_money$$), via email about his rare and historically important offerings.  Interestingly, he has no official connection to Apple.

He previously documented his iPhone find on the MacRumors forum in January.

Benj Edwards: How did you acquire the iPhone prototypes?

Jon F.: I bought the phones on eBay from an electronics reseller based in Texas.  They had purchased a lot of iPhones and these 2 were mixed in.  They didn’t know what they were — I bought them because at the time I thought they might be prototypes.

BE: Do you or have you ever worked for Apple?

JF: I have never worked for Apple.

BE: Is there any way you can prove the authenticity of your iPhone prototypes to people who may doubt it?

JF: Well, yes I think so.  When I opened the dead prototype, parts were labeled Apple 2006.  The internals closely resembled those of a production iPhone.  The OS contained hints of it belonging to Apple, including one of the test text messages being about Apple’s history.  I think the fact that Apple pulled the auction and my youtube video proves they know it is real.  I also had the firmware dumped and the files correspond to something that would have originated from Apple.  The serial numbers correspond to Apple serial numbers.

BE: Does the prototype hardware seem different in any way from the released iPhone hardware?

JF: On the earlier prototype, it had a plastic matte screen.  Other than that from the outside they looked quite similar.  I think the headphone jack was a different color.  The internals of the later prototype resembled that of a production 2G iphone.  I think the boards might have been a different color, but they were close.

BE: Do you know why your iPhone prototype auction was removed from eBay?

JF: Apple requested they be removed.  I got an email from eBay stating “The rights owner, Apple, Inc., notified eBay that this listing violates intellectual property rights.”  Apple also had my YouTube video removed, however it has been spread by others already.

BE: Have you received any official contact from Apple regarding the prototypes since you placed them on eBay?

JF: I have recieved no contact from Apple.

BE: What do you plan on doing with the prototypes now?

JF: They have sold to a private buyer who made me an offer after the auction was pulled.  I actually got many offers from collectors looking to buy them.  I sold them in order to pay some bills.

BE: Would you consider letting someone with iPhone expertise to dump the iPhone prototype OS for historical purposes?

JF: Its been done, see this thread and  look on page 4.

BE: Do you have information on or sources of other Apple prototype hardware or software?

JF: Not at this time, but my eyes are always open.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. racy_rick Says:

    This is just awesome. It reminds me of the book ‘Apple Tshirts’ that was nearly not published because of rights issues. It really is an incredible book with historic things about prototypes and axed products. I’m sure Apple wants a tight ship as far as leaks go.

    You don’t announce a product these days and then not release it for 6 months.