iPhone X Sacking: Did Apple Overreact?

iPhone X Sacking: Did Apple Overreact?
Source: Youtube

By now, many will have read about how Apple fired an engineer who worked on the iPhone X after his daughter posted a video review of the phone after other reviews were already online. Was this a draconian and overbearing act by a company who isn’t afraid to call the lawyers out over product leaks? Or was Apple reasonable in firing an employee whose daughter posted a video?

The case against Apple

It’s fair to say Apple isn’t afraid of calling in the lawyers. Remember the lost and found iPhone 4 in 2010? And its ongoing legal shenanigans with Samsung and others are well documented.

Brooke Peterson, whose father, Ken Bauer, worked on the iPhone X, posted a view of the new phone, one issued to her father, as part of a shopping outing with her family. About three minutes into a video that went viral and will not be troubling the scorers at this next Academy Awards, Ms Peterson has a bit of a play with her dad’s iPhone X at Apple’s offices. You can watch the entire video here but I suggest scrolling straight to the two minute mark unless teenagers on shopping trips with their Mum is your kind of thing.

Dad gets in on the act as well, showing off a couple of features before the scene moves on.

From what I can see, nothing special is revealed in the video. By the time the video was released, the iPhone X was well known, other reviews were published and other than finding out where Ashton Kutcher sat during the filming of Jobs, nothing of note was revealed.

In other words, it looks like a heavy-handed corporate behemoth squashing the enthusiasm of a proud dad showing his daughter what he did at work.

The case for Apple

Employee smartphone carry lots of private information. And that’s part of what a report at The Verge argues. They say the notes app shown on the video shows the names of code names for unreleased Apple products and special employee-only QR codes.

The video was also shot at Apple’s campus at 1 Infinite Loop. Filming on the Apple campus without permission is prohibited.

I paused the video where the Notes app is open but the resolution of the video isn’t sufficient for me to read the content — if there were QR codes shown, I couldn’t spot them.

While the potential exists for private data to have been revealed, it doesn’t seem that has been the case. But the fact remains Mr Bauer did let his daughter film on the Apple campus. And it seems the video may have been shot before the iPhone X was released.

Is this fair?

Apple takes privacy and product leaks very seriously. And even though they seem to be more like a colander than steel trap in the post-Jobs era, they do try to keep new products under wraps for as long as possible.

While Ms Peterson did not, I think, accidentally reveal any corporate secrets, her father was complicit in allowing her to break a company rule about filming on the premises. In Australia, I suspect that unless there were some very specific words in your contract, that being summarily dismissed for what looks like a minor offence would simply not happen. Particularly as the “injury” to Apple is either non-existent or trivial.

Unless that blurry Notes screen did contain some corporate secrets.

According to a follow up video posted by Ms Peterson, “I’m not mad at Apple. My dad takes absolutely full responsibility for the one rule that he broke. We’re not angry, we’re not bitter”.

So, we have an employee who has broken a company rule, or supported someone else in breaking the rule, and lost their job.

As harsh as it seems, if Mr Bauer knew the rules then Apple’s actions – as harsh as they are – are reasonable. But it does little to soften the company’s hard-line reputation.


  • in my opinion i don’t really think it comes down to a ‘reaction’ or ‘over-reaction’, i think this is a breach of terms of contract to not reveal any information prior to release date, and whether or not the information has already been revealed, if a business doesn’t enforce its contracts 100%, black & white, then it opens up opportunities for others to more intentionally break contract and use this as an example of when leniency was shown and appeal termination.
    for those affected not to be bitter, it shows understanding and acceptance that they clearly breached terms of employment and that’s all there needs to be. sucks, but reasonable.

    • It could be minor from our point of view but with the competition intensing with Android, this kind of behaviour will need to be controlled. Remember back then when Steve Jobs was at the helm, the control was really tight. Not a lot of leak. So I don’t think there will be a PR backlash and I don’t think it is minor. I think this is Apple’s attempt to control their product launch and the hype better.

  • At 2:35 into the video dad signs in the girl as visitor to Apple campus. Was any other employee or security personnel involved? Why did they not remind dad of the no video policy? Should they also be sacked.
    Next, at the cafeteria canteen checkout daughter is encouraged to film dad using apply pay on iPhone X by another employee. Why is he not also being sacked for no filming breach? Alternatively is the cafeteria not considered part of campus?

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