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Lost Nexus 4 phone proves taking device prototypes to bars is stupid

A report suggests that someone in possession of an unreleased Nexus 4 left it behind at a San Francisco bar. When will people learn not to bring such devices with them near booze?

The San Francisco bar where an iPhone 4S prototype was lost last year. Now, someone left behind a still-unreleased Nexus 4 at another tavern in San Francisco.
James Martin/CNET

If two lost unreleased iPhones -- and the resulting lawsuits, police investigations, and other recriminations weren't proof enough, a new story of a lost LG Nexus 4 prototype should convince those in possession of stealth devices that they should stay away from their local taverns.

In a post on Wired today, we learn the tale of a Nexus 4 -- the very phone that Google is expected to formally unveil next week -- that appears to have been accidentally left behind in a San Francisco bar. [Note: Google has canceled Monday's Android event because of Hurricane Sandy. We'll update you with a separate post when we know more.]

According to the article, 500 Club bartender Jamin Barton found the lost device, which he couldn't identify, late one Tuesday last month. And unlike most of the 20 or so phones left behind each week, this one quickly distinguished itself, first by the fact that no one came looking for it, and second, because it "was locked, and had no SIM card to activate it, so there was no way to identify or contact the owner directly. But it did have a 'not for sale' sticker and a Google logo on the back."

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It seems that, not knowing what it was or what to do with it, Barton asked a bar regular known as Dave if he knew what it was. The patron, eagle-eyed and tech-savvy, recognized it immediately as the as-yet-unreleased Nexus 4.

That identification led to a true Keystone Cops madcap adventure, complete with Google security bigwigs, unmarked badges, riot police with automatic weapons (don't ask), and finally the phone being returned to its rightful owner.

The funny thing, of course, is that these lost phones seem to always get left behind in bars. Recall the case of an iPhone 4 being left in a bar in Silicon Valley -- leading to a much-hyped Gizmodo expose on the as-yet-unveiled device, and a resulting lawsuit by Apple against the publication. And then the case, first reported by CNET, of an iPhone 4S prototype left behind at a saloon in San Francisco.

But do you ever hear stories of someone leaving an iPhone 5 prototype at a Starbucks, or an unreleased Microsoft Surface tablet being forgotten on a bus? Of course not. No, booze is always involved, and if nothing else, this should maybe be a lesson to the people at Apple, Google, and their rivals -- leave the fancy, secret new device in the car when you're heading into a bar. First of all, you couldn't use the device to pick up girls anyway, since it's secret. And second, there's enough evidence now to suggest that there's a better-than-average chance of leaving the phone behind after knocking back a few -- and perhaps endangering your coveted job.

Then again, from the perspective of a journalist, it's just fine if these people keep making these stupid mistakes, given that it makes for some awfully fun stories.