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October 31, 2012

Bartender Reportedly Threatened by Google for Finding Unreleased Nexus 4 in Bar

By Colleen Lynch, TMCnet Contributor

In September, a Google (News - Alert) employee accidentally left his phone in a San Francisco bar, where it was found by the bartender. Sounds simple enough, right? Well in this case, the seemingly everyday mishap had much larger consequences; the lost phone was a top-secret, brand new unreleased Google smartphone.

The bartender – Jamin Barton – says that rather than ask nicely for the phone back, the Google employee had a security officer from the company harass him, repeatedly threatening Barton with arrest if he did not return the phone.

The phone was the Nexus 4, which has yet to be released to the public.

Barton did not realize the importance of the phone until he showed it to a more tech-savvy friend, who immediately noted the “not for sale” sticker and Google logo, and guessed as to the phone’s top-secret status.

The Nexus 4 is set to be realized this week, meaning Barton found the phone an entire month before its release.

The loose phone is not hugely detrimental to Google, as many of the details of the Nexus 4 have been known for months, but now the safety of Google’s secrets on its consumer products is in question. The fear among companies like Google and Apple (News - Alert) is obviously that other companies will copy off of leaked information.

Speaking with Wired Magazine, Barton recounted how his friend was the one who reached out to Google to verify that the lost phone was the Nexus 4. Barton said his friend came to him after the call, a tad freaked out.

‘“Google lost a phone,’ he told me,” Barton told Wired. ‘“You just got a guy fired...The Google police are coming.’”

According to Barton’s friend, Google’s global investigations and intelligence manager Brian Katz was sent to retrieve the phone, and terms were thrown around such as “accessory to a crime.” Katz apparently wanted to ensure that the phone would be returned unaltered, and that no information would be leaked from Barton or his friend.

Barton did turn the phone over, after Katz showed up at his bar the 500 Club and threatened multiple workers, reportedly saying he hoped to “keep them out of trouble” and “keep the bar out of trouble.”

On Google’s part, the company’s security officer did offer Barton a free phone for his trouble (though not the Nexus 4), if he agreed not to speak to the media about the fiasco, or any details on the Nexus 4.

Barton chose to decline the offer, giving his story to Wired and selling them photos he took of the device.

In light of this situation, Google might want to try another approach the next time – as the adage goes, you catch more flies with sugar and honey, than with vinegar.

Edited by Braden Becker
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