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Apple negotiating return of 3G MacBook Pro prototype

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Apple is in talks to arrange for the return of a MacBook Pro prototype with built-in wireless 3G functionality from a North Carolina resident who attempted to sell it on eBay.

Earlier this month, owner Carl Frega had a friend post the prototype on eBay, where it quickly garnered bids as high as $70,000. Within a day, Apple was successful in having the listing pulled, citing infringement on copyrights, trademarks, or other intellectual property rights.

The device resembles a 2007 15-inch Santa Rosa MacBook Pro, but with the curious addition of an extendable cellular antenna along the top right side of the display and a SIM card slot. Red circuit boards and the lack of an EMC Number serve as evidence that the machine is a pre-production prototype.

CNet reports that Frega was contacted by Apple Tuesday afternoon to arrange for a representative to pick up the device.

Frega has been purchasing used machines for spare parts, moving up from a hobby to a full-time repair job. He purchased the machine from an alleged former Apple engineer off of Craigslist. Earlier this year, he posted photos of the prototype to the forums of a tech site, but failed to attract interest.



"Few people were really interested, and the thread turned into a discussion about tethering rates and wireless carriers," Frega said. "(It's) part of why I figured the machine wasn't anything particularly special (except to a tech geek like me) and not worth the trouble of selling as a collector's piece."



He replaced the hard drive and sold the machine on Craigslist. But, the new buyer took the laptop to the Genius Bar at a local Apple Store and was denied service.

"Opened machine to observe that nearly every internal part was third party; main logic board, optical drive, display, hard drive, top case, and others. Machine serial number (W8707003Y53) is also not recognized as a valid number," the Genius Bar repair sheet read.

Genius Bar repair sheet for MacBook Pro prototype | Source: CNet

The new owner took Frega to small claims court, accusing him of selling a fake MacBook Pro. The case even drew the attention of a syndicate court TV show, but he declined the offer. The small claims judge eventually ruled that Frega must pay the buyer $740, receiving the notebook back in return.

For its part, Apple has not indicated whether it will compensate Frega for the amount he originally paid for the device.

Rumors that Apple was working on a 3G laptop solution swirled several years ago. The antenna solution in the MacBook Pro prototype has been viewed as not matching Apple's design principles, possibly explaining why the prototype was never released as a full-fledged product.
post #2 of 33
In before people start claiming it's because they want to take another look at the design and try integrating 3G into computers again

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply
post #3 of 33
Apple should sue the former engineer who swiped this model. Unbelievable.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #4 of 33
Apple would have sold millions of these. I hope there is a plan to resuscitate this, otherwise Apple will not be seeking for its return. Jus look at that antennae. Why did Apple shelf this?

Here is hoping that the current owner gets more than the last bid price on eBay.
post #5 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by OC4Theo View Post

Apple would have sold millions of these. I hope there is a plan to resuscitate this, otherwise Apple will not be seeking for its return. Jus look at that antennae. Why did Apple shelf this?

Here is hoping that the current owner gets more than the last bid price on eBay.

There are fundamental business reasons that go into every product they make.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #6 of 33
This is great news for consumers.
post #7 of 33
It seems to me that Apple blew it when the machine was brought in and the serial number checked. They could made a note in the database that the serial number was assigned to an engineering prototype, and was the property of apple. At that point they should have explained the problem to the customer and given the customer a new replacement machine.
post #8 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by CVBruce View Post

It seems to me that Apple blew it when the machine was brought in and the serial number checked. They could made a note in the database that the serial number was assigned to an engineering prototype, and was the property of apple. At that point they should have explained the problem to the customer and given the customer a new replacement machine.

Yes, that and the "new buyer" was a complete fricking imbecile who ignored all common sense and reason.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply
post #9 of 33
How do these prototypes got out in the first place?! I understand if someone can walk out with a small part.. but a whole laptop!

I bought a Time Capsule three years back. When it broke Apple online and genius systems did not recognized the serial number! It got replaced anyway under my MBP AppleCare plan since I bought it in the same year. Oh, I didn't have the receipt for the Time Capsule as well
post #10 of 33
So when is Macbook Air with Antenna coming out?
--SHEFFmachine out
Da Bears!
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--SHEFFmachine out
Da Bears!
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post #11 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Apple should sue the former engineer who swiped this model. Unbelievable.

If they know who it is. Or if the person even exists. The fact that it supposedly has all 3rd party bits suggests that someone played a con game on this guy and it wasn't really a prototype at all


Quote:
Originally Posted by CVBruce View Post

It seems to me that Apple blew it when the machine was brought in and the serial number checked. They could made a note in the database that the serial number was assigned to an engineering prototype, and was the property of apple. At that point they should have explained the problem to the customer and given the customer a new replacement machine.

There is nothing to tell them that it is a prototype. It was an unrecognized serial number. Which could mean a prototype, stolen off the back of a truck or just a fake number. But they can't prove anything either way. So they put in a note so that it will be denied service everywhere and handed it back to the guy.

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #12 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

So when is Macbook Air with Antenna coming out?

They already have them.

"Wi-Fi's great. We love Wi-Fi!"

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply
post #13 of 33
I feel like a MacBook with 3G would be a dumb decision for apple especially with 4G/LTE on the horizon but who knows. Maybe this computer isn't a prototype... If it is a prototype it should never have been shelved! This could have made so much money for Apple!
post #14 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by drmstix View Post

Maybe this computer isn't a prototype

And maybe they're giving up the unibody

Quote:
This could have made so much money for the telecoms and left Apple with more SKUs, more unsold units, and more waste!

Fixed.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply
post #15 of 33
I wonder how much Apple will pay the guy for the machine, or if they will threaten him and just try and take it back?
post #16 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by eksodos View Post

This is great news for consumers.

What is great? A 4 year old prototype computer?
post #17 of 33
They probably shelved the idea cause 3G wasn't such a big deal back then. 2007 we were still surviving on "edge" speeds.
Probably makes more sense to revisit this concept now. But I wonder if it will also have download caps considering the (20mb) download limits that we see on iOS.
post #18 of 33
This has become ridiculous. Pictures of it are posted everywhere. 3G is on it's way out. Apple's antenna's are built in. No one stands to benefit from this idea. Apple, you're being dumb.
post #19 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

If they know who it is. Or if the person even exists. The fact that it supposedly has all 3rd party bits suggests that someone played a con game on this guy and it wasn't really a prototype at all.


That's a heck of a con-game, constructing a nearly functional macbook, including case mods, out of a bunch of "3rd party bits".
post #20 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by igxqrrl View Post

That's a heck of a con-game, constructing a nearly functional macbook, including case mods, out of a bunch of "3rd party bits".

Not really, it would have been very impressive if they got it working.
post #21 of 33
I'm glad my iPad doesn't have an antenna like that. Apple's wireless tech has come a long way in four years.
post #22 of 33
"off of" ?
post #23 of 33
Does anyone have any idea why any prototype for a 3G-enabled laptop would have such an absurdly large separate antenna?

I haven't seen an antenna like that on a cellphone since the early 1990's??

Why would it not simply be integral to the device like every other cellphone produced in the last decade??
15" uMacbook Pro 2.4Ghz 8GB 128GB SSD/500GB 7200rpm, iMac 27" i5 16GB 1TB, MacBook Air 8GB 256GB, iPhone 5s 64GB, iPhone 4 32GB, iPad 4 64GB, Apple TV2/3, iPod Nano 2nd gen, iPod Touch 4th gen,...
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15" uMacbook Pro 2.4Ghz 8GB 128GB SSD/500GB 7200rpm, iMac 27" i5 16GB 1TB, MacBook Air 8GB 256GB, iPhone 5s 64GB, iPhone 4 32GB, iPad 4 64GB, Apple TV2/3, iPod Nano 2nd gen, iPod Touch 4th gen,...
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post #24 of 33
Most Apple designs age pretty well. This doesn't so much.
post #25 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by richl View Post

i'm glad my ipad doesn't have an antenna like that. Apple's wireless tech has come a long way in four years.

post #26 of 33
In theory, doesn't EVERY eBay listing for used Apple products "violate" Apple's trademarks? Could Apple prevent any Apple products from ever being advertised for secondhand sale? How much of life happens only with consent of corporations?
post #27 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Magic_Al View Post

In theory, doesn't EVERY eBay listing for used Apple products "violate" Apple's trademarks?

Do you know what a trademark is?

Quote:
Could Apple prevent any Apple products from ever being advertised for secondhand sale?

It's not secondhand sale if there was no firsthand sale.

Quote:
How much of life happens only with consent of corporations?

You've never created anything, have you?

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply
post #28 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichL View Post

I'm glad my iPad doesn't have an antenna like that. Apple's wireless tech has come a long way in four years.

Are you shitting me? This antenna is freaking amazing!! I'm pretty serious about that. It would extend range I'm sure. Plus flipping it out is amazing, I loved that on old phones.

Sure it's not for everyone, some people like the antenna built in. But imagine busting out your iPhone, Macbook or even iPad and pulling out an antenna. Instant nerd cred.
--SHEFFmachine out
Da Bears!
Reply
--SHEFFmachine out
Da Bears!
Reply
post #29 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

The fact that it supposedly has all 3rd party bits suggests that someone played a con game on this guy and it wasn't really a prototype at all

Just in case it isn't obvious...the "genius" didn't recognize that it was a prototype and so labeled it as 3rd party.

There aren't too many 3rd party replacement logic boards out there. :P
post #30 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldenclaw View Post

Just in case it isn't obvious...the "genius" didn't recognize that it was a prototype and so labeled it as 3rd party.

There aren't too many 3rd party replacement logic boards out there. :P

Other sites that ran articles about this machine noted that it had a red motherboard which is what Apple uses on it's prototype hardware. Most geniuses aren't informed about how to identify prototype hardware since most of it never leaves Cupertino, or if it does and needs repairs, never ends up in an Apple store.

If you look at the timeline of when this machine was made, it was about the same time as PC manufactures were trying to put cellular modems in their notebooks. The problem was, more than likely, the cost of the contract. It took the iPad, to break the stranglehold the carriers have on you by way of a contract.

The machine was technically stolen from Apple, since the engineer who sold it was never the legal owner of it. More than likely Apple will compensate whoever owns it now with a new machine. That would make a win-win situation for both parties.
post #31 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

I wonder how much Apple will pay the guy for the machine, or if they will threaten him and just try and take it back?

Threaten him with arrest and prosecution for stolen property. They are unlikely to pay him anything. Or maybe send over a few goons to convince him.
post #32 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by old-wiz View Post

Threaten him with arrest and prosecution for stolen property. They are unlikely to pay him anything. Or maybe send over a few goons to convince him.

The lawyers can threaten all kinds of things, but Apple was heavy-handed and wrong in getting eBay to cancel the sale because of copyrights, trademarks, or other intellectual property rights. The only legit case is that it is stolen property.

And since they're "negotiating" the return, they obviously are going to pay this guy something - I suspect they'll give him some free hardware. Apple would have to prove that this guy did not come into the laptop legitmately. While it may be obvious that it's a prototype, it's a bit harder to prove under the law. Apple doesn't control all their dealers: it's perfectly legal to buy an Apple device from a non-authorized dealer and this guy can maintain that's what he did.
post #33 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

So when is Macbook Air with Antenna coming out?



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRLRjKCGHek
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