Report: iPhone 4G prototype near-final, legality questioned | iLounge News


Report: iPhone 4G prototype near-final, legality questioned

In a lengthy post discussing Gizmodo’s procurement of a fourth-generation iPhone prototype, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber has offered up some previously-unknown details about the device, citing inside information from Apple sources familiar with the project. Referencing one of the barcodes found on the outside of the device, “N90_DVT_GE4X_0493,” Gruber writes that “N90” is Apple’s internal codename for the fourth-generation GSM iPhone, slated for release “this June or July.” The “DVT” portion of the code reportedly stands for “device verification test,” an Apple production milestone that occurs very late in a device’s development, suggesting that the unit “very closely, if not exactly” resembles what Apple plans to release.

Regarding the legality of both Gizmodo’s purchase of the device—the site claims to have paid $5,000 for the unit—and the actions of the party that sold it to the publication, Gruber suggests that California law could make the seller and possibly Gizmodo’s editors guilty of a crime. The seller, who used the Facebook application on the device to ascertain the identity of the Apple employee who lost the phone, yet failed to return it to him or his employer, may possibly be guilty of theft, while Gruber argues that Gizmodo’s editors, by purchasing a device they likely knew belonged to Apple, may be guilty of purchasing and receiving stolen property. An iLounge source has indicated that Apple is unlikely to sue Gizmodo for civil damages over the prototype, however.

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I can easily see where the person that took possession of the iPhone, ascertained it’s owner and THEN “sold” it to Gizmodo may have broken the law. But since he did make some attempt to return it to it’s owner, this is unlikely. On Gizmodo’s end though, there would have to be proof that they purchased the actual phone. It could be argued that they merely paid that person $5,000 with the full intention of returning the device to Apple (after a short inspection period). Kind of like they bought “time” with the device. Sort of like paying an escort to spend time with you vs. paying a prostitute to “spend time” with you. But since there was a lot of intimate contact between Gizmodo and the iPhone, maybe I am on the wrong track completely.

Posted by Mitch on April 22, 2010 at 3:12 PM (CDT)



it is theft not almost or delayed or unintended. Everyone knew what they were doing including the greedy person that received money selling it. What a creep, I only wish and hope this is not the world we are moving into where everyone is out to get each other and nobody can be trusted. If you fing something and it has a name as to the owner then you know who it belongs to so to do anything else other than return it to the rightful owner is wrong. If you cannot see this then you are also without a value system.

Posted by Andrew Boyce on April 22, 2010 at 7:11 PM (CDT)


Yes, a crime. The crime of disrupting Apple’s KGB-level secrecy and paranoia.

Posted by Dale on April 23, 2010 at 9:23 AM (CDT)


In 1976, a Russian pilot named Victor Belenko flew his then-secret MiG-25 Foxbat fighter to Japan in order to defect. The Russians screamed holy h3ll about getting their “property” back. And the US complied and returned the fighter. That is, after about two months of “inspections”, they sent the fighter back to Russia - in several crates.

History repeats itself with the equally secret 2010 iPhone.

Posted by Dale on April 23, 2010 at 9:29 AM (CDT)


I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV, but Daring Fireball’s analysis is spot on. The person who sold the iPhone broke the law and Gizmodo & its editors HAD to know or strongly suspect it was stolen property.

Once the Facebook app was accessed and the identity of the owner was established, attempts to contact HIM, say via Facebook, would have been an honest good-faith effort. The lame attempt via a support ticket was an obvious CYA ploy. Fortunately, for the unnamed thief—nice how Gizmodo protected him but not the guy who made a mistake—and Gizmodo, Apple’s tight security probably works for them now.

Personally, I’ve lost respect for Gizmodo. They’ve shown their true colors and have no right to any claim of journalistic integrity.

Posted by Mack McCoy on April 23, 2010 at 11:56 AM (CDT)


I love the notion on the part of the self righteous posters here that there was a personal owner here and some sort of loss; no, there wasn’t. This was a phone issued to an Apple employee for field testing and when that testing was done the unit would have been reclaimed and stored in whatever bin box Apple keeps their development prototypes for posterity or possibly even destroyed. It was never the personal property of the employee who lost it and it was never going to generate any sort of sale or revenue for Apple. All this crying over values is for the loss of secrecy and hype for a soulless corporation that has only one aim: to get all of us to part with as much of ours as possible by doing as absolutely little as possible. Me, I’m glad the phone was turned over to a website that could reveal what we can mostly expect this fall instead of Apple getting away with their usual B.S. of keeping everyone in the dark to last minute to maximize sales of last year’s tech.

An Apple employee lost status and any future chance of getting to play with next year’s prototype. Gizmodo got some increased web traffic and ad revenue. We all got some nice news to chew over. Whatever sales loss Apple loses out on in the 12 weeks before this thing goes live is probably being offset by the big increase in AAPL stock values. And Apple got their prototype back in the end. Happy ending for everyone, stop your bellyaching.

Posted by Code Monkey on April 23, 2010 at 1:54 PM (CDT)


Here here, Code Monkey and may I add that what Apple is surely moaning about internally is loss of media manipulation potential… unless of course, this IS a manipulation of the media.

Posted by = rez = on April 23, 2010 at 10:14 PM (CDT)


Geez Andrew, did you just get here?  The “world” as you say, is probably better behaved now (more or less) than it’s ever been.  I don’t know all the details of the situation, and I doubt anyone else here does either.  Guess it’s a good thing there’s a legal system in place to take care of this for us.

Posted by David Benston on April 24, 2010 at 12:53 AM (CDT)


Having litle sympathy for Apple in this matter I still have to ask, where is the crime. If the item is lost not stolen how is it a crime, especially since Gizmodo voluntarily returned it to them at no cost? What says the item has to be returned in other than a reasonable time. Also did Apple place an add or notice in print requesting whom ever has their 4G phone to return it? Maybe offer a reward, don’t they have about $40B on hand. Who is really the villain here?

Posted by Sailorman on April 24, 2010 at 12:17 PM (CDT)


Well, at least one judge thinks that there might been a crime commited:

quote from CNN: Police seize computers from Gizmodo editor

Gizmodo, the technology blog that recently published details about Apple’s next-generation iPhone after paying $5,000 to get its hands on the device, posted documents today showing that police raided one of its editor’s homes.

Posted by Regzzz on April 26, 2010 at 10:54 PM (CDT)

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