A Letter: Apple Wants Its Secret iPhone Back

Well, how can I explain this? I got some interesting calls today. It was Apple. And they wanted their phone back.

I told them, all they have to do is claim it - on record. This formal request from Apple's legal department, asking for their phone back, is that. It proves - if there was any doubt in your mind - that this thing is real.

Here's my reply:

Bruce, thanks.

Here's Jason Chen, who has the iPhone. And here's his address. You two should coordinate a time.

[Blah Blah Blah Address]

Happy to have you pick this thing up. Was burning a hole in our pockets. Just so you know, we didn't know this was stolen [as they might have claimed. meaning, real and truly from Apple. It was found, and to be of unproven origin]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.

And since this was the only missing piece of the puzzle, we have now both extinguished any doubts of its origin but also, we get to give the phone back. *warm, fuzzy, huggy feelings of legal compliance*

(Our legal team told us that in California the law states, "If it is lost, the owner has three years to reclaim or title passes to the owner of the premises where the property was found. The person who found it had the duty to report it." )

I'm sad to see it go. We reasoned this pretty little piece of hardware is probably something we'll see again, but who knows when. For some of us, that date can't come soon enough.



    haha well at least there are no more surprises - i just want one!!

    hope the kid doesn't get fired - all though i think he may receive a not-so-friendly call from El Jobso!

      This is a prank... a marketing gimmick by Apple. As a lawyer who has dealt with Apple I can say that this is NOT how its legal department typically writes letters... in really plain English - so everyone in the world (particularly teenage iPhone users!) can understand it...

    Nice one. You not only complied with their request but also made them confirm that this is the real deal :D

    Let's see. You purchased a device from someone you knew didn't own it, and had no right to sell it.

    You are lucky it was a polite letter, and not a summons.

      I agree. I'm not sure how the law works over there, but here in Queensland, receiving stolen property is an indictable offence and the maximum penalty for said offence is just as harsh as if you had stolen it yourself.

        The state where murderers walk free from manslaughter charges for kicking someone to death is not going to impose a stronger penalty for someone receiving stolen property under these circumstances.

    This stinks. How can you pretend to be the good guys in this situation?

    "*warm, fuzzy, huggy feelings of legal compliance*"
    - after buying this phone instead of allowing it to be returned to whom you fully knew was responsible for it?

    And if that wasn't shady enough you even go as far as to write to Apple;
    "go easy on the kid"
    - in the context of having produced this blatantly predatory piece of defamation against Mr Powell; http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2010/04/how-apple-lost-the-next-iphone/

    This stinks and reflects poorly on Gizmodo.

    What a stupid move, Gizmodo.

    Imagine if you has secured the phone and contacted Apple. Not only would you have exclusive details on the next geenration phone, but you would be in the position to work with Apple for the launch and gain their favour.

    How stupid and short sighted. Good lcuk at ever getting another review unit, favour or invitation to a keynote address again.

      You're kidding, right?

      It would be terribly petty for Apple to treat anyone that way - especially when it's their error which has resulted in this situation...

      Imagine if the New York Times exposed some more stupidity on behalf of a government because someone sold them some "secret" report, and then the government turned around and said "we're never going to give you a story again"...

      What do you think the NYT would do?

      Yeah - tell them go fuck themselves - and print stories about the government regardless.

      So why should Gizmodo be different towards Apple?

    Is it just me, or this felt like a massive spoiler?? The mystery is dead …

    P.S Star wars is a great movie, and btw, for those of you who haven’t watched it, Darth is Luke’s dad

      nnnnnooooooo!!!!!! :)

      spoiler alert would have been nice???

      You're joking right? Great...now I don't have to watch Empire strikes back or return of the jedi...

      I think its pretty obvious that gizmodo has been in on this with apple right from the start. Apple leaks a phone to gizmodo and gets publicity, gizmodo get a shite load of views to their site, plus probably a heap of cash.
      The so called 'legal' letter just confirms this. As VS4 above has said the letter is written in such plain and stupid english that any teenage, iphone whore could understand it and be fooled into thinking this whole thing isn't a scam.

    I really dislike Apple and a lot of the ways its been throwing its weight around over the last few years, but this really sucks guys. These articles just read like you're trying to justify things to yourself, rather than let slip that you're really 'just a bunch of nice guys'.

    You bought an item that would be worthless, were it not stolen. Thats not justifiable but it is how the media goes about things. Deal with that moral issue yourselves and dont try to slip one by your readers. You reported on the device and got a lot of popularity for it. You then posted an article making fun of the guy who left the device at a bar while testing it, before finishing off the article with a footnote about how you're nice guys by your own endorsement -and here's a pleasant conversation we had with the guy where nobody yelled, just to prove it-.

    Its feeble and childish and it reads exactly like it is. Be a tech blog with a moral backbone or be a media group clawing your way to a scoop, but don't be one whilst trying to claim to be the other because you're just leaving readers like me disappointed and disenchanted.

    I hope you guys that are taking the moral high ground on this never download ripped movies and steal music from anywhere... Don't pretend either you've haven't been waiting for this type of thing to happen. It's just what's happened. If you're going to take a prototype device to a bar and drink yourself stupid and then leave it behind well...

    I understand that as journalists this kind of story would be huge for gizmodo...you must be making a mint today...but all that I have gathered from the course of today is that yet again revenue > morals. To publicly name and picture the poor guy who's life is most likely ruined is just a cheap shot for making money. Yeah he stuffed up, and yeah it's his fault for losing the phone...but the last thing he needs is the entire world knowing who he is, and what he has done...apples hammer is going to be a hard enough blow. I honestly feel for the guy and hope he doesn't get too much heat from apple...and maybe even does keep his job. But now the whole world will know who he is and what he has done. That's gotta hurt.

    At first I was excited to see the news on the new iphone...and I guess you decided to post his name and photo to 'prove' this was all the real deal blah blah...but come on...surely in all the excitement in your office today one of you stopped to think 'maybe we are going too far?'
    I'm not going to pretend I understand ethics laws or whatever, because I don't. It's just common sense.

    a please would be nice :P

    I for one endorse this behaviour.

    If you hadn't bought the device you wouldn't have been able to tell if it was a fake.

    If you had've returned it without a formal letter you couldn't be sure it wasn't fake.

    You basically forced Apple to validate the device meaning journalism beat them.

    Also you got to have fun at their expense which is always a bonus.

    This was probably exciting, but I couldn't get past "A Letter"... shouldn't it be "iLetter"?

    Well, Thanks, no surprise, wwdc will be a flop and who will tune in now? Gizmodo, you could of returned the phone, and asked for an exclusive with the real deal.. Apple prides its self on surprises and thats why I love them, You never know what your going to get.

    Good luck at getting that invite to WWDC, you piss in your pool, you have to swim in it.

    I certainly want one! Great looking, long needed overhaul, the upgraded specs, extra camera etc... gimme!!! ;)

    Look at all these apple employee's trying to influence the story. They can't even hide the fact that they work for apple by the way they are talking. Good one Giz!

    1st people thought those pictures were fake and this is a joke. Gizmodo proved it is not, to an extend that the guy who lost it @ the bar has been named, then you guys jumped in and raised the moral flag as if you guys care about him.

    Now I what I DO know is the prototype is a real deal, good work Giz!

    I'm not sure what everyone is bagging Gizmodo for?? I have an iphone and think they are great phoones (with a few weaknesses) but am not a fan of the apple company, media or product policy (slow release of features i.e. camera etc).

    As for spoiling the iphone launch i think its great. I hate the massive cheers Jobs gets for announcing a "earth shattering" features (i.e. copy paste or multi tasking or 3.2MP camera)... GIVE ME A BREAK, as far as specs go the iphone is middle of the road.

    CONGRATS TO GIZMODO for having the balls to release this info. I do feel sorry for the guy who lost it, releasing a blurred pic and false name probably would have been better.

    On the phone it self, i think it looks great, the features look very good. I would be suprised if there aren't some visual changes as a result of this leak... just so jobs can say that GIZMODO didn't have the final copy.

    Once again THANKS GIZMODO, gutsy reporting which will have won a lot of fans.

    Maybe by WWDC they will get rid of that seam. Surprise! How many people will tune in to see them release it? Probably more than before because of this. It's only a fucking gadget. It's not the end of the world! We all love our tech but I think the way this has been handled proves Gizmodo doesn't take it all too seriously. I had fun following this and I still look forward to when it's released.

    I don't have any problem with you buying, photographing and reporting on the device before returning it. naming and shaming the poor guy that dropped it was a bit much tho.

    I still think you should have better photos of the guts and names of the chips etc so some techheads can figure out what's in this thing.

    Fanboys unite!!!

    Gizmodo did a great job of maneuvering themselves so as to confirm a piece of technology for what it truly is so that THEY CAN REPORT ON IT! Am I the only one left who recognises that this is a website for reporting on technology?! Get a life you people, Apple is more than capable of looking after itself without all of you throwing yourselves in the middle!

    A lovely joint effort between Apple PR and Gizmodo to let everyone know about the new iPhone.

    If this were real Apple would have sued Gawker instantly.

    Reporting is one thing

    Sources are another

    Buying someone else's property is another.

    The short sighted journalist grabs the story but misses out on the relationship.

    I'm with the poster above. Gizmodo you could have been Apple's scoop site but nope you went the quick grab.

    It's a prototype, we still don't know about the launch unit.

    This launch though will be unlike any other, it will be interesting to see how Apple deals with it.

    Bloody great journalism, guys.

    I still feel pretty horrible for the guy who lost the device, but you guys got one hell of a story out of it.

    Ignore the haters, you did just what journalists are meant to do.

    "a device that belongs to Apple"


    "a secret prototype of the next-generation iPhone that belongs to Apple"

    You proved nothing. I've seen lots of prototypes including those from Apple, most of which never went into production or even looked remotely li

    I find it funny people just cant wait to get a scoop on a new iPhone, but when these guys at Gizmodo get one out of the blue they get criticized ?
    You cant win.

      I'm not troubled about Gizmodo writing about the iPhone. Publishing the scoop is one thing.. but Gizmodo didn't need to publicly besmirch Gray on an international level. I've said it before and I'll say it again. The whole thing reeks of sensationalistic tabloid journalism.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now