The “Next iPhone” Debacle: How It All Happened

Are you feeling a little confused about how and when this whole lost next iPhone story happened? Yeah, me too… Here is a short and sweet wrapup for you:

February 21: A kid posts on TwitPic what seems to be leaked pictures of the next iPhone. He says: “I found this photo while doing a twitter search for “iPhone 4G”, and found this pic and saved this photo from a pic uploaded by a chinese tweeter.” No one will really see or hear about these pictures until they were confirmed real by Gizmodo a couple months later.

March 18: Gray Powell, a young Apple software engineer walks into a bar in San Jose, most likely gets drunk and forgets a prototype of the next iPhone. On the same night someone finds this phone that appears to be an iPhone 3GS. From what he can tell, the iPhone is running a new OS (most likely OS 4).

March 19: The guy who found the iPhone wakes up and looks at the new iPhone and realizes it’s been killed. Nothing but the “plug to iTunes” logo shows on the phone. The phone has been remotely wiped off by Apple. He then notices there is something wrong with this iPhone. It takes it out of the case and realizes it is actually a prototype.

April 17: A month after the supposed next iPhone was lost and found, Engadget gets the first scoop and scores some pictures of it. Some say it’s a fake. I’m one of those skepticals.

April 18: Engadget gives more proofs it’s for real. In the same time, John Gruber talks to some of his sources at Apple and confirms the theory of the lost iPhone.

April 19: Gizmodo allegedly paid between $5,000 and $10,000 to get their hands on the device. They took it apart and ran a full review of it. At this point, there is absolutely no doubt that this is indeed the next iPhone.

On the same day, Gruber publishes a new post to clarify that Apple didn’t “lose” the iPhone, but that it got stolen. If you ask me, I believe it was indeed lost but they call it stolen so they can get it back quicker.

Apparently during the day, Steve Jobs himself called Gizmodo and asked them to give them back the lost/stolen iPhone. Gizmodo asks for a proper written request. Later that day, they receive an email from Apple’s General Counsel asking for the phone back. Gizmodo agrees.

What Now?

Is everything going to be back to normal again? I doubt it. For one, Gray Powell, the dude who lost the phone, probably lost his job at the same time. Knowing the ruthlessness of Steve Jobs, dude is most likely not going to find a job in the Silicon Valley for the next 50 years. Does he deserve this? Well, yes and no. Gray’s loss of the iPhone lead to the biggest leak in history of Apple’s products and if you’re going to be so stupid to lose such an important thing, you do deserve to be fired. At any rates, it sucks to be him right now…

There is also the ethical issue. Was it ok for Gizmodo to buy this lost/stolen iPhone when they could have helped return it to Apple instead. Blogs are trashing Gizmodo right now for publishing all this. I think Gizmodo did what everybody would have done in the same situation. Heck, were they supposed to keep all this info for themselves? No, they’re a tech blog, that’s what they do for a living. One thing is sure though, they should prepare themselves to face a UTSA lawsuit

Where Gizmodo was wrong was when they gave more details about Gray Powell, the guy who lost the phone. This was a very shitty move from Giz to put this poor guy on the spot like they did by putting his name out there.

What do you think of this whole situation? Are you glad you got an early sneak peek at the next iPhone? Do you believe Gizmodo was wrong in buying the device? Do you agree they completely screwed things up by revealing the identity of Apple’s employee? I look forward to reading your thoughts.