the iPhone 4G fiasco: my 2 cents

Posted: April 27, 2010 in Apple, hardware, iphone, technology
Tags: , ,

I’ve been following along with the whole mess around the “lost” and then found iPhone 4G prototype and i had to put my 2 cents in.   I’ve been accused of being apple-centric, which is true but that’s simply because i write about what i use and know about, and i’m an Apple user most of the time.  As an Apple user though, i am somewhat concerned and ashamed with the way Apple it re-acting to the initial loss of the prototype and the subsequent story by Gizmodo about the dissection of the then non-functioning “next iPhone“.

If you are unfamiliar with the story, basically a now infamous Apple engineer “lost” his working prototype of the iPhone 4G in a bar, which was found and then sold to Gizmodo who took it apart and did a story about it in great detail.  By this time Apple had already realized the iPhone was lost and remotely wiped its contents.  Here’s the initial report on Gizmodo’s site about the found iphone 4g http://gizmodo.com/5520164/this-is-apples-next-iphone if it’s still up – it was the last time i checked.  After the story broke is when things got messy.  Apple wanted their phone back, of course, and legalities started to get blurry.  Was the iPhone stolen property? If it was legitimately lost, how is that “stolen“? Did the finder have the right to sell it for a news story?  Should it have been turned back into Apple right away? etc, etc.  In the immortal words of the lawyer on the Simpsons,  Lionel Hutz, “I refer you to the case of Finders vs Keepers”.

I was never completely convinced that the prototype was actually lost.  Having seen the hype generated by Apple over the years for various new devices, etc, i wasn’t about to put it past them that it was purposefully left behind just to cause the kind of publicity and hype that it has.  Heck, it became a top ten list on Letterman, that’s when you know you made it big.  The Apple engineer that lost the phone may have been thrown under the bus a bit, but do we know the full story about that yet? Will we ever?

But enough about that, what is really getting my dander up is the way Apple is handling the aftermath.  Instead of just asking for the device back, whether through legal channels or directly, when did it become okay to seize the computers of the journalist who wrote the story?  If you haven’t already read that side of it here’s the info on Gizmodo’s site about the search http://gizmodo.com/5524843/police-seize-jason-chens-computers There are concerns about the warrant’s legitimacy and it’s execution.  I have to think Apple is going about this all wrong and potentially tarnishing their image, they could have keep it civil but its seems they are taking every possible action and stretching out the “see what happens if you mess with us” thing a little too far.

Sure, there are legal concerns with whether Gizmodo had the rights to pay the finder for the iPhone and were in fact breaking state laws under California’s Uniform State Secrets Act by reporting about it and it’s inner workings, but does that give the Police and the Court the right to break other laws in the consequence?  From what i have read, its pretty clear Gizmodo and Jason Chen broke the law if the device was in fact stolen.  But the story all along was that the device was lost.  Lost and stolen are two entirely different things.  Also, what is Apple afraid of?  Sales dropping off because a new better iPhone is right around the corner?  Umm, Hello, we already knew that.  Devices are constantly being updated and refreshed, and anyone who wasn’t living in a cave knew the next iPhone was coming soon – especially after the announcement of the latest iPhone OS.

Regardless of the legalities and the outcome, this is not looking good for either side, and in my opinion there are not going to be any winners.  If Apple had kept it on the down-low and requested their device back and asked Gizmodo to remove the story and images about it, the hype would have died down by now.  But again, maybe that is a driving factor behind this whole mess in the first place. Hype and publicity – good or bad it gets people talking and by keeping the story in the news, it lives on.  To quote Brendan Behan “There is no such thing as bad publicity, except your own obituary”.

tcg

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