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Reseller sells early MacBook Air prototype on eBay

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
A California computer repair shop is likely to receive a call from Apple asking it to explain where it obtained an internal MacBook Air prototype that it later turned around and sold on eBay for $730.

The auction listing for an "as-is" version of the ultraportable gives virtually no clues as to who at Apple allowed the system off-campus and has seen the poster take its images offline.

An image link embedded in the auction points to Pleasanton, California repair shop iTech Systems, which specializes primarily in fixing old computers and sits across the San Francisco Bay from Apple's Cupertino headquarters. The posting cautions buyers that the system has a malfunctioning hinge and minor blemishes on the outer shell, but says little to give away its preproduction status other than to claim that it carries a 60GB hard drive and uses Mac OS X Tiger, neither of which has ever shipped with a production MacBook Air.

A curious contributor from MacRumors' forums, however, chose to buy the system and has quickly discovered that the Air in question could only be a pre-production unit.

The most prominent difference is a black bottom shell in place of the silver-colored aluminum from final hardware. Not to be confused with the reported possibility of a black carbon fiber underside for future MacBook Air units, the bottom appears to be a more simply fashioned housing that may have been temporary.

The MacBook Air prototype minus the product wording and with a different power button | Source: MacRumors forums.

The prototype's black bottom shell | Source: MacRumors forums

System Profiler only identifies the system by its M82 test name | Source: MacRumors forums

Other signs on the outside also tip off users that the computer is decidedly non-reference: the "MacBook Air" lettering is absent from the bezel, the power button has a brighter chrome-effect finish and the keyboard has neither backlighting nor the media and Mac OS X shortcut keys that would later make it to the finished product.

Booting up the Mac only serves to reinforce this opinion. The system is preloaded with a pre-launch build of Mac OS X Leopard (more closely resembling Tiger) and has a serial number that produces a build date of May 2007 -- eight months before the Air's public debut. The model number and boot ROM also refer to the system by its M82 codename.

Such examples of Apple prototypes leaking to the public are rare, but not unheard of. In January 2007, an Xserve RAID prototype with Serial ATA connections reached the hands of an AppleInsider reader. That product was eventually canceled by Apple and so left the prototype as a rare snapshot of Apple's non-production experiments.
post #2 of 29
I am certain that this violates a non-disclosure confidentially agreement.
post #3 of 29
Well, if the buyer does not have this non-disclosure agreement then it doesn't matter. Apple would have to find out who it belonged to and sue them.

I can't believe it only sold for $790.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CREB View Post

I am certain that this violates a non-disclosure confidentially agreement.
post #4 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Well, if the buyer does not have this non-disclosure agreement then it doesn't matter. Apple would have to find out who it belonged to and sue them.

I can't believe it only sold for $790.

There are two issues I can think of - no warranty and the possibility that it's a stolen item. As far as I remember, even if purchased in good faith, if it's found to be a stolen item, the thing needs to be surrendered and returned to its owner.
post #5 of 29
Other differences:
Still has the Open Apple icon
Doesn't say "MacBook Air"
Trackpad button
post #6 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Yohe View Post

Trackpad button

What about it?
post #7 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

There are two issues I can think of - no warranty and the possibility that it's a stolen item. As far as I remember, even if purchased in good faith, if it's found to be a stolen item, the thing needs to be surrendered and returned to its owner.

Well unless Apple actually allowed the employee in question to take it home (unlikely IMO) then it is definitely stolen. Whomever bought it would have to surrender it to Apple if they asked.

What confuses me is that this seems like a total bonehead move. Physical prototypes would probably be very closely watched at Apple. It should be childs-play for Apple to find out who had it last.

Unless it's just some weird mistake, I am guessing a move this stupid had to be made by a kid. A son of an Apple employee between the ages of 12 and 25 is my guess. Any older and they are no longer a kid, any younger and they would be a genius and therefore more adult than the average 20 year old anyway.

I'm guessing also a male for much the same reason (level of maturity). Mom or Dad brought it home as a curio and junior sold it on eBay like the dufus he is.
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In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
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post #8 of 29
Just for the hell of it, ... isn't that bottom picture reversed?

Either that or the prototype had the magsafe connector on the opposite side from the production model.

Edit: NM picture of *inside* of bottom shell, right?
In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
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In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
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post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

I can't believe it only sold for $790.

I was thinking the same thing.
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post #10 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

Just for the hell of it, ... isn't that bottom picture reversed?

Either that or the prototype had the magsafe connector on the opposite side from the production model.

Edit: NM picture of *inside* of bottom shell, right?

That's the way it looks to me, inside of the bottom shell.
post #11 of 29
I can't believe Apple discontinued the XRAID, I just finished installing Promise, Apple's recommended replacement for the XRAID, and it sucks. If you ever decide to install a rack mountable RAID system, stay away from Promise, try Winchester system or something else.
XRAID, in my opinion, was king and I don't know why Apple is dumping on their IT stuff.
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post #12 of 29
the prototype's keyboard still has the  button on it!
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post #13 of 29
I have had several Xserve G5 prototypes that were both physically different on their internals and were labeled with Apple internal tags (bottom of server).

I believe that later prototype units are either discarded or otherwise pulled out of internal circulation. Could be that it was simply scheduled to be recycled/destroyed and somebody prevented that premature demise

Wolfman
post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

I can't believe it only sold for $790.


I can't believe it sold at all. MacBook Air? Whatever.
post #15 of 29
This is just a stupid prototype. No one can learn anything out of it and cause any loss to Apple. What the $#$% is the big deal. I have seen a lot of prototype hardware being sold all over ebay. Who cares. I pity the guy who spent $800 on it. You can buy a far better/brand-new one on macmall for a few hundred more.
post #16 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

What confuses me is that this seems like a total bonehead move. Physical prototypes would probably be very closely watched at Apple. It should be childs-play for Apple to find out who had it last.

Prototypes are taken home all the time by Apple engineers (beats paying for a new computer, eh?). I can't believe any of them would be dumb enough to sell one, though. Maybe somebody's house was robbed?
post #17 of 29
Steve-o was feeling the credit crunch, sold his for some four way window pane acid to help assist during his power colonic retreat in Washington State in December.
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post #18 of 29
sure left a lot of finger prints. One of them might be very interesting to apple... (forgot they do not have finger print recognition technology... it might be the time to implement it, at least for the prototype guys).
post #19 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

Unless it's just some weird mistake, I am guessing a move this stupid had to be made by a kid. A son of an Apple employee between the ages of 12 and 25 is my guess. Any older and they are no longer a kid, any younger and they would be a genius and therefore more adult than the average 20 year old anyway.

I'm guessing also a male for much the same reason (level of maturity). Mom or Dad brought it home as a curio and junior sold it on eBay like the dufus he is.

Wow, way to profile! I really hope you're not a cop, or worse yet, a parent. You sound like a very rational individual indeed...

Just to clarify: you're saying that males between the ages of 12 and 25 are the dumbest part of the population. Why not females? Where did you get 12-25? Why didn't you just go all the way and throw race into the equation?

FYI, Steve Jobs was in his early 20's when he founded Apple, and if I recall correctly, Bill Gates was 19 when he founded Microsoft. Who the hell are you, and what are you doing that makes you so brilliant?

/vent. Yeah, I know I've got issues; I'm a 21 year old who looks 14, so to this day older people continue to judge me and treat me like crap. People like you.

/vent for real this time...
post #20 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post

I can't believe Apple discontinued the XRAID, I just finished installing Promise, Apple's recommended replacement for the XRAID, and it sucks. If you ever decide to install a rack mountable RAID system, stay away from Promise, try Winchester system or something else.
XRAID, in my opinion, was king and I don't know why Apple is dumping on their IT stuff.

see getactivestorage.com
post #21 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

I can't believe it sold at all. MacBook Air? Whatever.

Same here. Big deal. The Muscat flavored KitKat bar I'm eating in Japan right now is more interesting.
post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by success View Post

Same here. Big deal. The Muscat flavored KitKat bar I'm eating in Japan right now is more interesting.

Those are really good

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post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post

I can't believe Apple discontinued the XRAID, I just finished installing Promise, Apple's recommended replacement for the XRAID, and it sucks. If you ever decide to install a rack mountable RAID system, stay away from Promise, try Winchester system or something else.
XRAID, in my opinion, was king and I don't know why Apple is dumping on their IT stuff.

Agreed. Great piece of hardware. Shame. Damn shame.
post #24 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by soward View Post

see getactivestorage.com

So companies are supposed to sign onto a product with a five figure price whose only image looks like a Photoshop job and there are no trade reviews?
post #25 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

So companies are supposed to sign onto a product with a five figure price whose only image looks like a Photoshop job and there are no trade reviews?

I wouldn't diss that one. Turns out that this is driven by Alex Grossman, the guy that developed the original Xserve raid for Apple.

So there will be definitely the knowledge to take the product to the next level and as much as I like the Xserve Raid's (we have 7 of them), they definitely show their age in terms of speed & capacity.
post #26 of 29
post #27 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post


Unless it's just some weird mistake, I am guessing a move this stupid had to be made by a kid. A son of an Apple employee between the ages of 12 and 25 is my guess. Any older and they are no longer a kid, any younger and they would be a genius and therefore more adult than the average 20 year old anyway.

I'm guessing also a male for much the same reason (level of maturity). Mom or Dad brought it home as a curio and junior sold it on eBay like the dufus he is.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cactus_man View Post

Wow, way to profile! I really hope you're not a cop, or worse yet, a parent. You sound like a very rational individual indeed...

Just to clarify: you're saying that males between the ages of 12 and 25 are the dumbest part of the population. Why not females? Where did you get 12-25? Why didn't you just go all the way and throw race into the equation?

FYI, Steve Jobs was in his early 20's when he founded Apple, and if I recall correctly, Bill Gates was 19 when he founded Microsoft. Who the hell are you, and what are you doing that makes you so brilliant?

/vent. Yeah, I know I've got issues; I'm a 21 year old who looks 14, so to this day older people continue to judge me and treat me like crap. People like you.

/vent for real this time...

I was thinking 43 year old suburban female. Sorry, I occasionally disrespect "kids" too like when I am hungry, behind them in line and want them to hurry up and order, but unfortunately you will get old too.
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post #28 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by soward View Post

see getactivestorage.com

When you start building enterprise infrastructure solutions, you need to leave the pretty matching bezels behind and purchase a enterprise class storage array... EMC, NetApp, HP etc...
post #29 of 29
There is a long thread on macrumors.com. The buyer is selling it on eBay, and last time I checked, the current bid was $1700.

It is just something cool to have for some people. I have a prototype eMac (with medimac.apple.com sticker). Again, just something cool to have.
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