iPhone prototype seller can't wait for Apple to squash $100K eBay auction | Cult of Mac

iPhone prototype seller can’t wait for Apple to squash $100K eBay auction

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Photo: kimberlyk1018
The auction for this prototype iPhone 6 is going crazy on eBay. Photo: kimberlyk1018/eBay

As a prototype iPhone 6 on eBay shoots above $100,000, the seller is just dying to hear from Apple.

Although the company might cancel the auction, as it has done with several secret prototypes in the past, the seller is such an Apple fan that he’s more excited about hearing from Cupertino than collecting $100,000.

“I don’t think the bids are real at this point,” the seller told Cult of Mac. “I’m excited about Apple getting in touch because I have loved their company for so long and this is just such an amazing opportunity.”

The seller’s name is Alex. He’s 24, lives in Los Angeles, and works in sales and marketing. He unintentionally purchased the prototype iPhone for his mother.

The prototype was accidentally sent from Verizon when Alex (who is running the eBay auction under his sister Kimberly’s name) renewed his mother’s contract. His mother thought there was something wrong with it: The phone didn’t boot into iOS 8, but rather a suite of test apps called SwitchBoard.

“She plugged the phone in and later that night said it looked different, so I checked, thinking she just didn’t know what to do,” said Alex, who requested we withhold his last name. “I knew right away what this device was.”

Alex put it on eBay at a starting price of $999. In the first couple days, it received a few bids; by the second day, the price had climbed to $13,600, according to the bid history. By the end of the fourth day it had climbed to $60,000. It is now north of $100,000. There are two days left.

Although some of the bids are undoubtedly bogus, the auction seems to have attracted several highly rated buyers, which makes the bids seem genuine.

Jim Abeles, a collector in Portland, Oregon, who owns several rare Apple machines, said it was nuts that bidding has gone so high.

“I don’t get it,” he said. “People sometimes tell me I have more money than common sense. I’m thinking the same about these bidders.”

But as bidding goes sky-high, Alex is getting less and less excited. It seems inevitable that either the bids are bogus or Apple will cancel the auction.

“I am not as excited about these bids as I was earlier,” he said by email. “At $4,000 I knew they were real bids; at $10,000 I thought they were real; and at $100,000 I am sure they are bogus. I am hoping for the best but expecting the worst.”

He’s more excited about the prospect of hearing from Apple. He’s a big fan. He camped out for two nights earlier this month to buy his own iPhone 6. He was first in line, and he made money from that too: He sold his spot on Craigslist for a “pretty penny.”

“I was still first in line,” he said, “but I was able to save a second-in-line spot for another buyer.”

He’s fully expecting that Apple will demand the return of its prototype, which has happened several times in the past. “I am not nervous about it,” he said. “I am excited to hear what they have to say.”

Alex was expecting to sell the prototype for $3,500 to $4,000. “I am shocked at what has happened. I would like to sell it for $25,000. Really just any number that I will get paid.”

Whatever it sells for, he’s pledged to donate a portion to CharityWater.org. “They are a nonprofit focused on the idea that everyone should have access to clean water,” he said. “For $20 they can provide clean drinking water to an individual for 20 years in a developing nation.”

One collector, who asked to remain anonymous, said it’s rumored that Apple no longer pursues prototypes that leak into the wild. “Insider connections at Apple say the secretive era at Apple is over and they will not go after prototype auctions any longer,” he said. “I’ll be curious to see if this one goes the full auction time period.”

We asked Apple if it has any plans to cancel the auction, but haven’t yet heard back.