Apple's Lawyers Claim the iPhone Prototype That Was Left in a Bar

By Smriti Rao | April 20, 2010 10:34 am

Apple-letterA furious Apple has sent tech website Gizmodo a terse letter demanding the return of an iPhone prototype which the site procured. The device was found on a barstool in a pub in Redwood City, California, and was sold by the finder to Gizmodo for a reported sum of $5,000.

As Discoblog reported yesterday, the site immediately declared that the phone was the prototype for the 2010 model of the new iPhone 4G and wrote an in-depth article detailing all its new features. The article, accompanied by photos and video, drew an estimated 3 million viewers to the Web page in just 12 hours online. Some of those viewers must have been Apple’s lawyers.

In the letter dated yesterday, Apple’s senior counsel wrote: “It has come to our attention that Gizmodo is in possession of a device that belongs to Apple. This letter constitutes a formal request that you return the device to Apple. Please let me know where to pick up the unit.”

The phone, Gizmodo revealed, was found in a bar, camouflaged to look like a regular iPhone 3GS. But when the finder switched on the device, he found that the mobile Facebook app was logged in to the account of Gray Powell, an Apple software engineer whose last post on the social networking site was reportedly “I underestimated how good German beer is” [ABC News]. The guy who found the phone reportedly tried to get in touch with the person who lost it, to no avail. That is when the finder is reported to have started shopping the phone around; selling pictures of the phone first to Engadget and then selling the device to rival Gizmodo for $5,000.

Gizmodo’s subsequent blog post on the phone drew massive traffic, with estimating that just one post generated more than 3.7 million page views, over 28,000 tweets and more than 1,870 comments [Fortune]. That’s when Apple swung into action, getting in touch with the site and asking for it to cough up the prototype. Gizmodo says it has since returned the phone to Apple on the condition that the company “take it easy on the kid who lost it.” Gizmodo’s editorial director Brian Lam added, “I don’t think he loves anything more than Apple.”

For a sneak peak at the new features of Apple’s next generation iPhone, go to Discoblog’s post: So, a Guy Walks Into a Bar… and Discovers Apple’s Latest iPhone.

Related Content:
Discoblog: So, a Guy Walks Into a Bar… and Discovers Apple’s Latest iPhone
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Discoblog: Apple App Store Backs Off Rejection of Pulitzer-Winning Political Cartoonist
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80beats: Apple’s “iPad” Tablet: It’s Here, It’s Cool, and It’s Slightly Cheaper Than Expected
Discoblog: Weird iPhone Apps (our growing compendium of the oddest apps out there)

Image: Gizmodo

MORE ABOUT: Apple, gadgets, Gizmodo, iPhone
  • ChH

    stop me if you’ve heard this one –
    So an Apple software engineer walks into a bar with a prototype under one arm, and he says to the bar tender …

  • NewEnglandBob

    What a useless video…LOL

    I bet this whole thing is an Apple marketing ploy.

  • Craig

    How does the author know that Apple is furious?

  • bigjohn756
  • nick

    I have to agree with NewEnglandBob – Apple is genius at creating buzz and hype without spending a penny on actual advertising. If it’s not in collusion with Gizmodo specifically, it’s still a plant. I wonder how much of an increase in traffic Apple’s websites got that day? 😀

  • geeta

    Wasn’t that an easy marketing gig? How hard could it be to contact the person whose facebook profile was available for the founder to send him a msg? Moreover, buying stolen goods is an offense and there are rules regarding what to do when a lost item is found by someone. So asking Apple to ‘go easy on the kid who lost it’ rather than who found it indicates that there was no legal fear at all. Not sure why a rival would fall for it, but business rivalry is mostly to deceive the customers – just like political rivalry

  • m

    an iPhone?

    never heard of it.


  • Lorina Paulis

    Today I recieved my brand new check iPad! Here you can also get your personal test iPad for Free!


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