updated 09:15 pm EDT, Tue August 30, 2011
Company stopped Ebay sale of modded model
A modified MacBook Pro with a built-in SIM card slot and a raisable 3G antenna that showed up on Ebay three weeks ago will soon be back in Apple's hands, CNet is reporting. A North Carolina man, who originally bought the item for parts from a listing on Craigslist for parts, had his Ebay attempt to sell off the machine stopped by Apple, who are now in touch with him to arrange its return, despite bids as high as $70,000 before the auction was pulled.
The unusual prototype matches machines from 2007, evidence that Apple was toying with the idea of incorporating 3G connectivity into its notebook line years ahead of other companies -- just as the first iPhones were just becoming available. The design was probably rejected as anathema to Apple's design philosophy, but the company has patented several ideas related to the concept and 3G-capable notebook computers have often been rumored over the years.
The prototype is currently owned by Carl Frega, who originally re-sold the machine he got from Craigslist to another user, but was forced to return the money and take back the unusual model with the new buyer tried to have it serviced at an Apple Store and was told it was "filled with third-party parts" and with an invalid serial number. The buyer sued Frega charging that the machine was counterfeit or altered. Once the machine was back in his hands, Frega again tried to sell it, this time on Ebay -- where it attracted extraordinary buyer and press attention.
Apple had the sale pulled after a single day, citing infringement on copyrights and trademarks. CNet says Frega and Apple have communicated about having someone local pick up the machine. Neither Frega or Apple commented on whether Frega would be compensated for the equipment. At one point during the dispute with the Craigslist buyer, Frega was offered a spot on a syndicated court TV show -- which he declined.
The company has a reputation for pulling auctions of Apple prototypes on Ebay, such as a prototype MacBook Air that appeared in 2008, an unreleased Mac Pro variation in 2009, and an iPhone 4 prototype from China last month. Most famously, the tech blog Gizmodo obtained and publicized a prototype of the iPhone 4 before its appearance in the market. Some charges in that case are still pending, though Gizmodo itself avoided any formal charges. : [via CNet]