Google has officially come of age as a smart phone maker.  Wired has reported that the a (now former) employee at Google lost a Nexus 4 prototype phone in a San Fracisco bar and Google’s security team nearly created a serious PR blunder in retrieving the phone.

The story is kind of fun, since occurrences outside of the control of either the bartender who found the lost phone and Google’s security team only added to the intrigue of this short-lived spy-vs-spy style event.

Just like the 2010 loss of Apple’s latest and greatest happened at a bar, so did this Google/LG loss happen.  Unlike the Apple event, however, Google managed to bumble through things without coming out looking like the big evil bad guy – but only just so.

As it was, the bartender in question is Jamin Barton, who tends at a Frisco pub called the 500 Club in the Mission District.  When closing one night, he found the phone and figured someone would be back for it by the time they opened the doors again the next day.  It’s not like phones don’t get accidentally lost at bars all the time.

“We find about 20 a week,” he told Wired.

When it wasn’t claimed the next day, though, he knew it was different and showed it to a regular at the bar who’s a little more tech savvy.  He knew exactly what it was.  That guy called a contact at Google the next day and started a near-firestorm at the company.

Then, of course, security officers often acting like a weird mix of cop-lawyer began muddying up the whole affair with veiled threats and hurried attempts at contact that border on harassment.  Jamin, being a bartender, is an expert in the old school variety of social networking, so he lead Google’s security man on a bit of a wild goose chase in order to avoid an incident at his workplace.

Then riots, totally unrelated to the phone or Google or Jamin, opened up.  The police precinct that Google’s security man had been sent to in order to head off Jamin reporting the lost phone was locked down during the riots and Jamin, who was actually at another bar nearby playing a set (he’s a musician) didn’t dare venture into the streets either.

Eventually, the two met up (in public, with witnesses), Jamin verified the man’s Google employment (something the company should be highly thankful for) and handed over the phone without incident.  A small offering was made by Google to require Jamin to keep his mouth shut (he refused) and he made a few bucks selling the photographs and a short video of the phone to Wired Magazine, who’s now published that information.

Now, of course, the phone’s details have been leaked repeatedly and from sources nowhere near the San Francisco bartender who’s incident was more of a thrill ride of annoyance than anything really James Bond-ish.

Written by | dave

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