Accidentally revealing an upcoming major product on a retail website before it’s unveiled is fairly common, but mistakenly sending an unannounced item to a random customer is almost unheard of. Back in March 2013, however, it did happen. And it wasn’t just any old piece of tech; it was an Xbox One prototype.
Business Insider reports the story of how 25-year-old Miami resident Jia Li ordered a $400 - $500 notebook from the Microsoft store. When it arrived a few days later, he was surprised to find that the package had a lot of security tape over it.
Upon opening the delivery, Li found a prototype of the Xbox One. It was white and had zebra pattern on it (often used to make prototypes harder to photograph), but it was still one of Microsoft’s upcoming consoles. Li didn’t know this, of course, as the company wouldn’t announce the Xbox One for another two months, and it would be eight more months before it hit the stores.
While there was no controller or Kinect camera with the console, it did contain a selection of international power and TV plugs. Li plugged it into the wall, switched the Xbox One on, and was presented with a boot-up screen displaying the word “Kryptos,” which, along with “Durango,” was one of the Xbox One’s codenames.
How did this unusual incident occur? According to Business Insider’s Ben Gilbert: "In an attempt to throw off Microsoft's own employees, the beta versions of the Xbox One were stored in the open, in a less-than-secure part of a Microsoft shipping facility. And that's how one accidentally got shipped to Mr. Li in place of the laptop he'd ordered, which would've shipped from the same facility.”
“Maybe the wrong shipping label got put on a box with an Xbox One prototype in it. Maybe it was a computer error that switched his laptop order for an Xbox One prototype. Maybe something else entirely! Either way, off one went."
Li contacted Microsoft, and a representative was sent out to his home. For his troubles, Li was given a free Xbox 360 and Kinect. He also received the notebook he originally ordered.