The backstory on the lost iPhone 4

Summary:Some backstory on perhaps the biggest tech leak and scoop of the century: the lost iPhone 4

Earlier I posted a story about the motherload of all Apple scoops: Gizmodo purchased a lost, unreleased iPhone and proceeded to document it in copious video and photographic detail. Since then there have been developments:

The lost and found iPhone was previously in the possession of Apple Software Engineer named Gray Powell (pictured here with his friend Jack Daniels). Powell lost it on March 18, 2010 while imbibing on German ales at Gourmet Haus Staudt in Redwood City, California. His last Facebook post from that fateful night was "I underestimated how good German beer is." Boy did he ever.

Gawker Media founder Nick Denton disclosed that he paid $5,000 for the handset, tweeting unapologetically "we'll do anything for a story." Gizmodo acquired the handset a week ago and managed to keep a lid on it until its fateful post at 10am this morning. Gizmodo has already logged 15M+ page views today.

The most amazing thing is that Powell still appears to have his job at Apple, despite what is probably the largest tech leak of the century from the world's most secretive tech company. Perhaps it was Gizmodo's heartfelt appeal at the end of its post -- outing him. (Anyone else find that cruelly ironic?)

This post from Edible Apple details the legality around Gizmodo's acquisition of the prototype iPhone. A first year law student could convince a judge that the phone is Apple's property and that Gizmodo knew as much, but since Giz didn't coerce an Apple employee directly -- remember it purchased the phone from a person that found it -- what legal ground does it have?

Edible Apple references this section of the California Penal Code:

One who finds lost property under circumstances which give him knowledge of or means of inquiry as to the true owner, and who appropriates such property to his own use, or to the use of another person not entitled thereto, without first making reasonable and just efforts to find the owner and to restore the property to him, is guilty of theft.

What's your take? Is Apple preparing the lawyers and gassing up the black helicopters?

Topics: iPhone, Hardware, Mobility, Wi-Fi

About

Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

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