Some aspects of the story seem lost in the haze of what really happened because somewhere along the line we’re all presuming Gizmodo is telling the truth – the whole truth but O RLY?
First, the initial foundation of this is an AUTHORIZED Apple employee takes his test phone with him has a few drinks – and forgets the phone.
Now some people think this is an Apple PR stunt. An Apple PR stunt is sending an email with a photo of Steve Jobs and the time and place. People will get on a 22-hour flight. Apple does not need to manufacturer PR. Apple is one of the FEW companies that an EMAIL can get people speculating on what’s next and have people eager to hear. With previous MacWorld, some people would pay thousands of dollars to have the Keynote invite included with their ticket.
This as a PR stunt makes no sense because what is the logical sequence?
If you find a phone or a wallet in a bar – what do you do? Tuck it in your pocket? No, 95% of the people gives it to the hostess or a bartender. A friend of mine once found a set of Ferrari car keys, was that a PR stunt in hopes a random person woudl take the new 599 for a spin to write a blog post?
OF COURSE NOT.
This PR scenario is only plausible with a tiny company – for instance, the JooJoo tablet, that would be plausible to seed it – but only if you have a pretend drunk shout, “I work for Apple and I have this lousy new iPhone prototype!” and then pass out.
This “PR stunt” would require all of this scenrio to play out to work:
A dishonest person finds the phone.
A dishonest person has the where with all to understand it’s a 4G phone disguised as a 3G phone.
Otherwise, you leave a phone, people ask around – then the employee tosses it into lost & ground with 15 other phones, a netbook and clothing.
It’s not even 1992 where you might sneak in a “free” long distance phone call. 95% would not have given it a second glance.
Supposedly he sat around a while waiting for the guy to come back (according to Gizmodo) … was he hoping to date the Apple engineer? Was he hoping to get a reward? But while playing with the phone, he realizes it’s not like his iPhone.
The gears in his head starts spinning. Again, you find a phone, you don’t turn it into anyone – you hope to get a reward or meet the guy but then you realize it’s a prototype …
His next thought? eBay? Craigslist?
SO HE LEAVES the bar with the phone – by law, this is considered THEFT.
He takes it home and CRACKS IT OPEN.
Was he hoping there was contact info tucked inside the casing?
So, you don’t have a problem with any of this?
He realizes he probably can’t sell it – but maybe he can get one of the gadget blogs to pay him something for it. So he snaps some pics and sends them off. They run them but of course, it could all be a Photoshop job so they want proof.
Now, here’s where Gizmodo’s role becomes murky? Did they say they wanted to see and examine it before paying him for photos and he (iPhone finder guy) name a price? Did Gizmodo say we want an exclusive from here on out – let’s talk, nudge nudge, wink wink? Did they induce him or allude they would pay or did this guy just straight out named a price?
Also according to Gizmodo, at this point he “tried” to find the guy who lost the phone – does this guy call the bar back? No. He calls AppleCare. That’s like finding a wallet in Macy’s and calling macys.com – if your house is on fire, does he send an email to the fire department? WTF?
So, you don’t have a problem with any of this?
This sounds 100% authentic to you?
$5,000 dollars later, that was the best he could do to find the owner of a cell phone he found in a bar but along the way, told no one at the bar, called tech support and cracked the thing open.
Just another day in this guy’s life.
Going further, the law is pretty broad in your role in receiving stolen goods – if you touch it, you are guilty unless you were completely duped (for instance, you bought it in a store at full retail price and they gave you a receipt) – if you buy a big screen for $200 off the back of a truck in a parking lot, claiming stupidity is not a legal excuse. Gizmodo clearly was happy telling the story above – no ethical or legal issues they could see – after all, the guy called AppleCare and hey, they’re journalists, they are entitled to buy things in the hallway for $5k.
The rest of the story gets murkier and has to play out. Yes, there is a journalist shield law but that’s intended to protect journalists and their sources when it comes to public safety and public interest – clearly not the scenario here where a guy takes property and resells it to a “journalist.”
This is not about a company covering up inherent dangers and the guy was a whistleblower on a public safety issue. Companies are allowed to protect their trade secrets, otherwise, why not let employees to sell company secrets … (Valleywag, a sister to Gizmodo company offered a $100,000 for early pics of the iPad … clearly the law & ethics to them is more of a situational thing that they can ignore?)
And of course, publicly blaring the engineer’s name who lost the phone in an attempt to draw heat away from themselves?
If the guy merely took some pictures and sold them to tech blogs but returned the phone as quickly as possible (and NOT taking it apart), then Apple might have things to grumble about but they did lose the phone, it was a public location so that would just be an issue of whether journalists should pay for news but Apple wouldn’t have much of a legal leg to stand on.
So, what’s next since this story goes way beyond just taking some photos? Clearly the DA thought there was a case to pursue. Maybe as part of a VERY PUBLIC message – if you find something that does NOT belong to you, do NOT sell it – it is AGAINST THE LAW. Don’t most people learn that when they are 5?