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  • Did Apple Find the iPhone Finder?

    It's the details that make a story. In the ongoing brouhaha about the Gizmodogate affair, what's more interesting to me than the legal wrangling or the business ramifications are the characters in the whole drama. The drunken engineer, the sensation-seeking publisher, the gung-ho cops, the tough-talking executive… they give the story life. Now, we can add some more characters to the cast: the Apple detectives and the college kid with the priceless prototype.

    WIRED is reporting that Apple apparently tracked down the person who came into possession of the fourth-generation iPhone prototype last week. It wasn't clear from the story whether this happened before or after police raided Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home, but according to WIRED's source (who insisted on anonymity due to the ongoing investigation), "[p]eople identifying themselves as representing Apple last week visited and sought permission to search" the apartment of a man identified only as being of "college age" and living in Silicon Valley.

    If true, the report would cast doubt on whether the device was actually stolen from Apple or just found, as Gizmodo has steadfastly claimed. The kid had apparently been showing the top-secret device to all his friends and neighbors for weeks, before contacting Gizmodo and other magazines. Though the source - presumably a friend or roommate of the finder - claims they approached the media "about the device to confirm its authenticity and help locate the owner," WIRED notes that they "received an e-mail March 28 offering access to the device, but did not follow up on the exchange after the tipster made a thinly veiled request for money." Nevertheless, the source insists, the $5,000 payment they received from Gizmodo was not a “sale,” saying that "it was made very explicit that Gizmodo was to help the finder return the phone to its rightful owner or give it back.” In addition, “Gizmodo said they could help restore the phone.”

    You can almost smell the bong water. If this is a sophisticated industrial thievery operation, they're doing a good job of covering their tracks with comedy. The whole case now seems to hinge on whether Apple can say the phone was stolen, rather than lost and found. If this kid's story is even part true, hauling him up on felony theft charges would be unfair in this writer's opinion.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Did Apple Find the iPhone Finder? started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 29 Comments
    1. wolverinemarky's Avatar
      wolverinemarky -
      more lawsuits in the near future
    1. Dorkenstein909's Avatar
      Dorkenstein909 -
      god give the kid a break. felony charges? how come all the kids that stole cell phones in high school didnt get rung up on felony charges?
    1. mytran80's Avatar
      mytran80 -
      This calls for a revolution!
    1. mooritexxx's Avatar
      mooritexxx -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dorkenstein909 View Post
      god give the kid a break. felony charges? how come all the kids that stole cell phones in high school didnt get rung up on felony charges?
      They didnt steal from APPLE MUHAHAHAHAHHA
    1. ceris7356's Avatar
      ceris7356 -
      Quote Originally Posted by cypherpunk View Post
      If I find someone's wallet and ID in the street and try to sell it on ebay, they'd have every right to take action against me. How is this different?
      I agree. It is their property. I would be pretty upset with whoever "lost" the prototype too.
    1. angiepangie's Avatar
      angiepangie -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dorkenstein909 View Post
      god give the kid a break. felony charges? how come all the kids that stole cell phones in high school didnt get rung up on felony charges?
      1) Those kids don't usually get caught unfortunately. If they do get caught, they do face some pretty heavy fines... The fact that he reported it to all the major tech news sites doesn't help his case.
      2) None (I'm pretty sure) of those cell phones stolen were worth $5000...
    1. tonyregan1's Avatar
      tonyregan1 -
      A mobile me subscription could have avoided all this trouble.
    1. camperchuck's Avatar
      camperchuck -
      OS4 breaks mobileme, they had trouble using it. they had to use an alternative method to wax the phone.

      Quote Originally Posted by tonyregan1 View Post
      A mobile me subscription could have avoided all this trouble.


      Find My iPhone (Or Not)

      So why couldn't Apple track this thing down? Apple's choices at this point were a lot like any other iPhone owner's would have been:

      • Call or text: Our sourced used the phone software for a very short time. He didn't check the messages or call history, but said there was no notification box indicating a text or missed call. The phone was found dead in the morning, meaning that someone could have text or called during the night.

      • Find My iPhone: But what about the phone's GPS? Apple has a consumer product that lets you find lost phones, and shut them down remotely. It's called MobileMe. It works pretty well! Except, it's broken in the latest version of iPhone OS.
      Why Apple Couldn't Get the Lost iPhone Back
      It's basically a given that the phone was running a test version of Apple's iPhone software, called OS 4. We've tested the software, which will presumably launch with the next version of the iPhone hardware, on current iPhone hardware. One thing we didn't notice, though, is that MobileMe's Find My iPhone feature, which lets you find your lost phone on an online map in a matter of seconds, doesn't work in OS 4—yet. In other words, Apple likely couldn't track this phone because of a beta software bug.

      • Shut it down: Another MobileMe feature that doesn't yet work with OS 4 is remote wipe, but the iPhone's Exchange Server integration includes its own support for remote wipe, which means that Apple would have been more than able to nuke the iPhone from afar, anyway. Evidently, that's exactly what they did.

      And of course, Apple could have an entirely different tracking service, or even a different build of the OS in which Find My iPhone works fine. But assuming the phone was running something resembling the iPhone OS 4 beta many people have been using for the last few weeks, the pieces fit. And since it was running the new, unreleased operating system, these decisions make even more sense.
    1. rhekt's Avatar
      rhekt -
      this does open up more light on the story.

      Quote Originally Posted by angiepangie View Post
      According the California law, if someone finds something and does not return it to its owner or turn it in to a police station, it is considered stolen regardless of whether it was "lost and found" or actually "stolen" (as in reaching into his pocket and taking it without permission or something).

      Silly college kids :

      and what is the length in time with which the law states you have had it in your possesion too long and considered stolen? if a length of time is not noted....then they are still not guilty of any wrong doing.