Police to investigate lost iPhone prototype | iLounge News


Police to investigate lost iPhone prototype

Police are investigating possible criminal law violations related to the lost fourth-generation iPhone prototype that appeared online earlier this week. Citing an unnamed law enforcement official, Cnet reports that Apple has spoken to local police about the incident, with the investigation being handled by a computer crime task force led by the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office. The phone in question was lost by an Apple engineer at a bar in Redwood City, CA, and was recovered by an unknown party that subsequently sold the unit to Gizmodo for a reported $5,000 bounty. Gizmodo photographed and disassembled the device, posting photos of it online and claiming it was “lost.” Daring Fireball’s John Gruber has argued that both the seller and the editors of Gizmodo may be guilty of crimes related to the incident under California law; Cnet has yet to confirm whether the police probe is targeting the seller, Gizmodo, or both parties.

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For those who think Apple will just let this go, remember a former Mac rumors blog called Think Secret. Apple took them to court and forced them off the Internet for disclosing an accessory not nearly as exciting as the iPhone 4G product.

Posted by Jimmie on April 23, 2010 at 3:49 PM (CDT)


I’m just waiting for code monkey to show up and blast Apple for wanting to see the moisture dots on the prototype before they decide on the lawsuit…

On a serious note, I’m all for legal action if/where it’s appropriate.  Giz crossed the line here (IMHO) and while breaking the story was fine, naming the poor guy was right out of the TMZ playbook.  Shameful.

Posted by sb on April 23, 2010 at 4:39 PM (CDT)


I’m curious as to how it wound up in a bar in the first place. Was the employee field-testing it? Did he have permission to remove it from the premises?

Posted by Paul on April 23, 2010 at 5:23 PM (CDT)


Apple planted the phone at the bar to stir up talk about their next iPhone release.

Posted by Sam on April 23, 2010 at 5:55 PM (CDT)


@sb: so basically, you think I’m out of line for being angry with Apple creating a policy that allows them to increase their profits by, one, directly shifting millions of dollars in costs to their consumers for faulty electronics, and, two, saving technician costs that should be spent by actually living up to their warranty. Classy and not at all unexpected.

I’m behind Gizmodo all the way here. The law should not be protecting corporations from their own stupidity. If you’re going to let employees take prototypes out into the “wild” for the benefits of getting real world testing, you should be prepared to accept the consequences for the inherent risk in such an action. You should not expect the courts to be your muscle to intimidate the next Gizmodo. Like most big modern “capitalists” they want to privatize the profits and socialize the losses.

As for releasing the name of the employee, what did you expect with everyone calling either fraud or deliberate plant from Apple to what, for Gizmodo, was probably the biggest scoop they’re going to have this year (maybe ever)? The fact that they were able to release so many corroborated details is what gave the story credence and probably convinced Apple to finally pull the move that removed all doubt by asking for the phone back.

Posted by Code Monkey on April 23, 2010 at 6:17 PM (CDT)


At Mr. Ball, er, code monkey.
You seriously need to go out and get some air. And your legal analysis is as lacking as any semblance of humor.
Read daring fireball if you want to learn about the possible legal issues. As it stands, the class you took in high school is not cutting it.
As for your ongoing diatribes on Apple’s support model, you are arguing against what is probably the best in the business. I’ve had items replaced out of warranty, and otherwise items that they did NOT have to cover, but did.
Not uncommon.
If you’re looking for perfection, well, he corporate world will always ket you down. Me, I’m thrilled, my AAPL bought at $34 is looking awfully good today. Has for years now.
So go and whine somewhere else please.

Posted by sb on April 23, 2010 at 9:57 PM (CDT)


I have no humor for people who place the interests of a corporation ahead of right and wrong and are more interested if their AAPL stock is going up than if Apple has achieved those profits by ripping their very customers off. How good or bad Apple’s support is in our pro-corporation, anti-consumer culture is of dubious value. It’s like the analogy I saw an author make the other day where he said something to the tune of, “In all fairness, the Obama administration has done more to address global environment issues than all the previous climate change era administrations combined. On the other hand, I’ve drank a lot more beer than my 12 y.o. niece… the bar is set pretty low”.

Further, there’s nothing wrong with my understanding of the law, I just happen to disagree with the law. I’m not arguing that Gizmodo and the original finder of the phone may have technically broken the blatantly pro-corporate laws of California, but, either way, I still want to see them avoid being charged or at least get off. They have my backing and Apple doesn’t in this case. Simple, no?

BTW, this isn’t whining, it’s providing a skeptics viewpoint in a land of the faithful and complacent. I am not faithful nor complacent. I praise what is done right (if you weren’t so busy misreading everything I write, you’d realize I actually DID praise Apple’s general support, only tearing them a new one for what is clearly a malicious and indefensible policy), I criticize what is done wrong (c.f. their moisture sensor policy ;-)). That’s it. You find this unattractive; fine, don’t read my posts. I won’t be going away just to please you.

Posted by Code Monkey on April 23, 2010 at 11:19 PM (CDT)


Laws preventing profiting from stolen goods have NOTHING to do with corporations.
It would be the same if I did it to you.
So far, nobody has proven the sensors are falsely activating. How do you ow that an iPhone in the bathroom during a shower isn’t damaging it?
And if Apple were “ripping off their customers” I think we’d stop standing in lines like the fools you think we are.
On one point, I can agree with you on the Obama smokescreen. And good on you beatin’ that kid drinkin’ beer! ;)


Posted by sb on April 23, 2010 at 11:28 PM (CDT)


@Jimmie, I believe Apple settled out of court with Think Secret paying the sites owner off instead.

As to the current issue I think Gizmodo’s (of which I’m an avid reader) handling of the issue exudes a complete lack of professionalism and as a consequence they are likely to get punished by Apple either outside or inside of the court, which in my opinion they deserve.

Posted by Johnathan on April 25, 2010 at 3:55 PM (CDT)


I don’t care what aapl does to the thief and Gawker. But all should be prosecuted for theft and receiving stolen property, to the fullest extent of the law.

Posted by Bill on April 25, 2010 at 6:22 PM (CDT)


Its unbelievable about all the hoopla. Apple wants to prosecute for its own employee’s stupidity? Here’s a news flash. it’s just a f***ing phone, not a lost nuke. Call it a lesson learned and get over it. Our overburdened police and justice systems don’t need to be bothered over this petty garbage.

Posted by Dale on April 25, 2010 at 8:39 PM (CDT)


@ Dale: You are making some big assumptions. It does not say at any point that Apple initiated this investigation. It merely says that “Apple has spoken to local police about the incident”.

The fact that this is a VERY high profile case means that Apple does not have to be pressing charges. Local prosecutors can choose to investigate based on the public facts alone. Thus, they have spoken to Apple about the incident. That being said, I am sure if Apple said “just let it go” then the local law dogs would just drop it.

With all of that out of the way, I do agree that this should not be consuming much time by the legal system. It was a bonehead incident by one of Apple’s own to begin with. There were certainly some improprieties in the handling by the “finder” and Gizmodo for sure. Regardless, I think this will end with no criminal/civil charges. Gizmodo may get a sturgy smack from Apple though. They can make life hard for errant tech bloggers after all!

Posted by Mitch on April 26, 2010 at 12:36 PM (CDT)


If your lost New Ipod is considered stolen and needs police help.  Then I want and must have police help looking for my Lost Mother, my Lost 17 1/2 old shepherd dog and my Lost job, not to mention all the other items I have lost over the years.
After your actions do you really think I would ever buy one of your products? Your nuts.
How about firing the idiot who lost the Ipod to begin with.
Maybe I cam help help here I think my lost mother is in a earn in Illinois.  The California police can fly out to Illinois and start looking there. I just hope they return her in the way I remember her though.
Perhaps you need to grow up and accept things as they come…
Scott Metze

Posted by Scott on May 6, 2010 at 6:58 PM (CDT)

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