Guy who sold iPhone 4 prototype to Gizmodo tells all in Reddit AMA

By , Jun 26, 2013

iphone 4

Gizmodo’s iPhone 4 scoop of 2010 will likely go down as one of the biggest product leaks in history. Anyone who’s been following Apple, or tech news in general, in recent years remembers the story of the Apple employee that left his iPhone 4 prototype in a bar.

The name of the guy who found the handset is Brian Hogan. And wouldn’t you know it, he turned up on Reddit last night to do an AMA about the whole ordeal. It’s quite interesting, as he talks about the night he found it, how much money he made and more…

The entire thread, first spotted by The Next Web, is worth reading. But we’ve highlighted some significant excerpts for you below:

“After the last call both of my friends went to the bathroom, as they left a random drunk guy came out, walked up to me, picked up the phone on the bar stool next to me, and said don’t forget your phone! I told him it wasn’t mine and I didn’t know who it belonged to. Random drunk guy hands me the phone and tasks me with finding its owner.”

Hogan says that he asked everyone at the bar about the handset, but it didn’t belong to anyone, so he took it home. The next morning he picked up the search again, and began looking at the phone itself for clues. That’s when he noticed that it wasn’t a normal iPhone.

“First I noticed that the screen looked like it had a higher resolution than any iPhone I had seen, then that the case had plastic pieces/buttons in strange places. When I took the case off I found an iPhone with a flat back, flat edges, and a forward facing camera. There were two bar code stickers on the back, and there were a series of x’s instead of a serial number. I was very curious/excited at this point, but I had no idea what I had.”

Once he determined the device belonged to Apple, Hogan says he phoned the Cupertino company. But his story was laughed off by the front office personnel, so him and his friend Sage decided to start shopping it around to tech blogs to see what they’d pay to see it.

“First Sage contacted Apple to tell them that we think we might have it, and after they blew him off he started contacting different tech blogs to see if they wanted to meet in person and look at the phone (for money). The people at Gizmodo took us seriously, we met, and, they thought it was real too. About a month after that first meeting Gizmodo posted the article leaking the phone.”

As for the money, Hogan says that Gizmodo promised him $5000 up front for the prototype and another $3000 after Apple confirmed it was real. The site apparently never sent him the latter payment, and he says he ended up spending more than $5000 on his lawyer.

Apple did take the pair to court over the matter. The last we heard, Hogan was being charged with misappropriation of lost property and, in addition to his attorney fees, was being asked to pay for half of a $250 fine. He also got 40 hours community service and probation.

If you’re interested, you can find Brian’s full account, as well as all of his AMA responses, by clicking here.

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  • Yunsar

    Woohoo first comment!

    • seyss

      damn arabs

      • Yunsar

        Haha what makes you think I’m an Arab?

  • inf3rn0

    A bit ridiculous on Apple’s part IMHO, but then again, the guy tried to sell it for money.

    • iOops

      .. only after contacting Apple, and being blown off first.

      • Rowan09

        This guy is just an example while I do believe it was excessive, you don’t want employees or people to think its ok to do this. By the law this would be considered theft and every company would probably do the same thing. It’s sad though that the guy had to pay more than he received, it would have been better if he just had to pay back the $5000

      • Sean Cua

        He only had to pay $125 but he had to pay more than $5000 for lawyer fees.

    • Michael P

      I’m sure you would of sold it too. How do you think most iPhones that are on Craigslist. Some of them are found and stolen

  • Adil Hussain

    If something isn’t going your way….sue em (Apple’s motto)

    • Rowan09

      That’s the American motto.

    • Yunsar

      Haha Adil where are you from?

  • Tyler

    Apple sure is being an A hole about this, go screw with your employee not this guy. So what he tried to make a quick buck, I would’ve done the same thing. I probs wouldn’t have called Apple first though lol

    • Rowan09

      Me too, but I would have been scared after finding out it was a leak. You know how leaking things get you in trouble, especially in America.

  • Roland Adi Nugraha

    that guy already tried to contact AAPL, why did they sue them? what an asshole

    • Rowan09

      Think about it, if someone called you company about a device not yet released would you confirm it? It was suppose to be a secret so I’m not surprise the guy laughed it off.

    • planetcoalition

      I would not be surprised if the person he contacted knew nothing about the unreleased phone.

    • Jarryd Richards

      They sued him because he was selling stolen (in the legal sense) property.

  • Michael P

    He should of recorded the phone call when he had called apple. And used it in court that is fucken bullshit how he got charged for bullshit. The way our govt works is retarted. The guy didn’t nothing wrong.

    • Ben Giddings

      Its America

    • momerathe

      do you have the same thing in America that we do in the UK, where if you report a lost item and it’s unclaimed for N days, it’s then legally yours? if he’d done that he would have been in the clear.

      • Sero Eskandaryan

        Ya but i think its 6 months lol

      • Becki Johnson

        I believe it varies from state to state & maybe even city to city. I think it’s 30 days here in Las Vegas.

    • planetcoalition

      He did nothing wrong initially, completely wrong when he decided to sell it to Gizmodo.

    • BoardDWorld

      Really all he should have done was take it straight into the cop shop. After a set time of non-claim it would have been legally his… The likelyhood of a non claim would have been fairly high if the battery was flat and it had the special case on it.

  • Ryan James Christensen

    That guy must feel really stupid for leaving a phone like that at a bar.

    • http://klikkit.co.uk/ Jake – Klikkit

      The guy must feel even more stupid for losing money due to his greed

      • Sero Eskandaryan

        If i remember correctly he also lost his job

  • Bobby McBobson

    Why did he just did not insist and give it to Apple Seriously?

  • J M

    He knew that it was a lost item and very valuable. He should have taken it to the police as any stolen/lost valuable item. If it had been someone’s $5,000 diamond ring, would he have hawked it at a pawn shop? He knew it was wrong, but he got greedy at the thought of a journalist paying him for the phone.

    Apple’s front desk was probably not the best approach, he should have contacted someone in legal, or some other more official person than the receptionist at the front desk…

    Don’t really feel sorry for this guy.

  • Adham

    I bet the people at Apple who blew off this guy felt like idiots when Gizmodo published the article.

  • JomanJi

    I started tech news in the beginging of 2011, so I havent heard of this guy, but boy, was he lucky! (and then unlucky) Just imagine finding an iPhone 5S at a bar!

  • Gorgonphone

    ummmm lol

  • Riley Freeman

    How could he ever be in the wrong if he had proof that he made an attempt to call apple? Phone records would show this and I think this was a bad lawyer

  • bw00ds

    Thanks for the link. That was a very interesting article.

  • RyanFoley

    Dick move for Apple. Understandable if he just started to show it off and get money for it (which he did), but he actually TOLD APPLE that he had their property and they blew him off. Maybe they should actually have believed him, because I think they really got ripped off in terms of hype for the phone after WWDC

  • Gus Me

    What I don’t understand how this guy is being called “greedy”. I wonder if the same people calling him greedy also call Apple/Google/etc… greedy for selling us old tech as new tech. For charging us so much for just a slight bump in specs? He found a phone, tried to return it, they didn’t want it, THEN tried to sell it. I think it’s BS that these billion dollar companies continue to screw the little guy and get away with it and then the little guy turns around and defends the BIG company? Especially when most of these companies pay their overseas employees crap and are okay with it… /endrant

  • Yunsar

    Acha Bhai

  • Steelahlive

    Not surprised Apple Receptionist had no idea – someone had lost their prototype. That would be my bigger mystery, do we, did we ever, know who lost the phone to begin with? I doubt they wanted to go to their boss the next day and be like….well sir, I was out drinking ya know…at x bar last night…..and I was so drunk….I lost the prototype.. I Cant report it as stolen or lost cause that would spoil the “reveal of a new product” but hopefully it just got thrown away…..OH Shoot – yeah you know that story gizmodo’s running, Mr. Jobs….yeah that’s the phone I lost……Sorry….