updated 06:35 pm EDT, Tue May 29, 2012
Apple did not file to recover 'stolen' property
Surprising observers who had speculated that Apple would close down the auction, a rare prototype iPad with two 30-pin dock connectors sold for a total of $10,200, about $200 above the original asking price. The unit had dock connectors on the "bottom" and "left side" of the iPad, and was functional except for a faulty digitizer, which renders the touchscreen inoperative. The unit still had Apple's "Switchboard" testing software included.
A total of seven bidders issued 23 bids for the item, with the unidentified buyer finally placing the winning bid with about two minutes to spare. The item is valuable because of its scarcity, along with the fact that it had been previously unknown outside the company that the dual dock connector design had made it as far as the working prototype stage.
Though Apple also patented the dual dock connector design, it was dropped for the final model, which debuted in 2010. The option was revealed about five months later when both a photo of a back-case shell and patent drawings revealed that Apple had considered the option, which would have enabled syncing and charging while the unit was in landscape mode.
The prototype iPad also lacks any trademark and regulatory markings as found on finished iPads, but does have a prototype ID number, along with part numbers and copyrights from prior to the official iPad launch. Both of the ports are said to be fully functional.
Apple has a history of taking down auctions of prototypes, saying that the equipment is "stolen property." The fact that the auction took place for only a single day (and on a US national holiday) may explain how it was able to be completed without an Apple objection. The company could still conceivably take legal action to recover the unit.