An eBay user who claims to have an iPhone 6 prototype for sale has attracted bids of more than US$100,000 ($128,000) on the online auction website after apparently receiving the phone in error.
The purported prototype, which has been available to bid on since Thursday, had a starting price of US$999.
By Saturday one bidder took the biding to US$50,000, up from US$14,800. Since then, bidding has sat at around US$100,000, with more than80 bidders and 200 bids.
The person selling the item, known only as “kimberlyk1018” on eBay, has only one confirmed purchase through the site and no previous sales.
They claim they were sent the prototype – which is running diagnostic software and not Apple’s latest iOS 8 operating system – in error by Verizon, a US telephone company.
“For sale is a brand new never-used Apple iPhone 6 Prototype,” they say. “Apple does NOT let these phones out of their possession yet I was accidentally sent one upon renewing my contract.
“As you can see from the photos, iOS8 has not been placed on this device; rather it is in the true developer mode. There are no FCC markings on the rear of the device or a model number.
“This is the real deal!!!”
Whether it does indeed turn out to be the real deal remains unknown, although the accompanying photos do appear to match up with previously leaked iPhone pictures running in diagnostics mode, and used for testing.
The seller claims the device is a 64GB model, but warns that it may not work properly.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you to take a part of.”
Sonny Dickson, an Australian blogger who is known for his leaks about Apple prototypes, said the software and device appeared to be real, but he believed the bidding had been bumped up by fake bids.
“This is actually quite common when a … company get’s [sic] their hands on a prototype,” he said. “They think it’s worth a lot and try and build the hype by raising the price (in the hopes of getting media attention and possible funding).”
Dickson doubted, however, that Verizon accidentally sent the phone.
“I wouldn’t be so sure that Verizon sent this phone on accident, however I have seen something like this happen before,” he said.
Theauction has less than three days to go.
An eBay Australia spokeswoman said the auction site was aware of the listing and had not yet received any contact from Apple.
“…There has been no contact from Apple requesting it be removed,” she said. “If Apple do contact eBay then the listing will be ended and the item removed.
“If Apple don’t request the removal then legally it is able to stay on site.”
The spokeswoman added that Apple had been quick to contact eBay in the past when they have been unhappy about particular listings.
“I couldn’t say why they haven’t [contacted us] in this instance but there are still a few days before the listing ends so that could still happen.”
Apple has not yet commented. Whether they will take action to have the listing removed is unclear, as is thelegality of buying and selling prototype devices
When technology news website Gizmodo obtained a prototype iPhone left behind by an Apple employee in a Californian bar, for example, Steve Jobs angrily rang up its editor and demanded its return, claiming it was stolen property.
In August the auction website pulled a stuffed dog listing. It’s also removed AFL Grand Final tickets after threats from the Victorian government.
Home of strange things to sell, it’s also had people attempt to sell phones with the popular Flappy Bird game,which was removed from Apple’s app store earlier this year, pre-installed for $50,000.