The story of how an Apple employee left a prototype phone at a bar has been out this week after Gizmodo bought the phone, took it apart, and featured it on its site. What I find interesting is that someone found the phone at a bar and proceeded to take it and sell it to Gizmodo for $5000. Putting aside the dishonesty of this act, Gizmodo may have bought stolen property. This was clearly not abandoned or discarded property, as both the “source” and Gizmodo were aware. Moreover, Gizmodo knew its true owner — Apple.
It is now being reported that police are investigating the alleged theft, here. They have ample reason to investigate.
Gizmodo Senior Editor Jesus Diaz desperately tried to frame the receipt of the stolen goods as a simple journalistic exercise: “Paying for an exclusive has always been done in the journalism world. There are people who admit they do it and people who do not. We have done it.”
Diaz admitted that it was simply left at the bar by accident: “”An engineer was in a bar, celebrating his birthday. He drank two drinks too many and forgot the phone.”
Brian Lam, the editorial director, added “Just so you know, we didn’t know this was stolen when we bought it. Now that we definitely know it’s not some knockoff and it really is Apple’s, I’m happy to see it returned to its rightful owner. P.S. I hope you take it easy on the kid who lost it. I don’t think he loves anything more than Apple except, well, beer.”
That seems a bit implausible. Gizmodo is approached by a man who has no connection to Apple with a phone that he knew nothing about. The phone is immediately recognized as a prototype, which is not for sale or available on the public market. Yet, Gizmodo had no idea that this man had stolen the phone? Notably, this was not a whistleblower revealing some danger to citizens or corrupt practices. It was the theft of a prototype so that Gizmodo could reveal its propriety secrets.
Gizmodo has now identified the engineer reportedly responsible for the lost phone: Gray Powell, 27, an Apple developer and a 2006 North Carolina State University graduate. He was celebrating his birthday at the bar.
What is astonishing is that Apple (which we have criticized for over-litigious practices — here) seemed pretty laid back in this case.
Under Gizmodo’s theory, they could open a virtual superstore of stolen items from “sources.”
For the full story, click here.