Most embarrassed employee: The guy who left the iPhone prototype on a barstool

An Apple engineer leaves the prototype for the iPhone 4G on a barstool at a beer garden; it is then picked up by another customer and sold to Gizmodo. Who's to blame here?

By now most of you have heard the story about the Apple engineer who left the company's next generation iPhone (which is being called the iPhone 4G) on a barstool at a beer garden. He was field-testing the new device but when he left the bar, he absentmindedly left the device behind. It was picked up by another customer who proceeded to sell it to to Gizmodo for $5,000.

There are some who say that Apple is much too paranoid and secretive for something like this to have happened accidentally -- that perhaps the mistake was actually a publicity stunt. But, really, it's entirely plausible that some poor guy just made a dumb mistake. You can't help but feel his pain. It is perhaps the most publicly humiliating experience for an employee, especially considering that Gizmodo bloggers actually named the poor guy and posted his picture in one of their blogs.

No one knows yet how Apple will handle this. Supposedly, the employee went to his bosses when he first discovered his mistake so they were at least able to remotely disable the phone. But the hardware was still there, of course, for Gizmodo to examine.

So what do you think? Will they fire the guy? Should they fire him? I know you guys will have a lot to say on this, so let's get started.

By Toni Bowers

Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.