Unless you live in a cave then odds are you’ve heard the story of the new iPhone prototype, lost in a bar in Redwood City, CA. The phone eventually fell into the hands of Gawker Media’s Gizmodo, who published details yesterday about the new iPhone, as well as the Apple employee who misplaced it. The story signifies the largest Apple product leak of all time and has spread through the web like wildfire. Since the story broke, there have been over 5.1 million page views, over 31,000 tweets, 8,670 diggs and 1.3 million video views. But was Gizmodo right in publishing details about the new iPhone?
According to Gizmodo, Apple Software Engineer Gray Powell accidentally left the phone, which was disguised as an iPhone 3GS, at a German beer garden in Redwood City on March 18. Another patron in the bar picked up the phone. Instead of turning it in to the bar he took it home, planning to return the phone the next day. It seems that after a failed attempt at finding the phone’s owner, he realized that this was no ordinary iPhone – it had a camera on the front and felt different than the regular iPhone. A few weeks later, he sold the iPhone to Gizmodo, who published a teardown of the phone, including pictures, video and a breakdown of new features. The iPhone’s new features include a front-facing camera for video chat, improvements on the regular camera, a camera flash, an improved display and more.
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the story since it’s release yesterday. For starters, a lot of people are asking whether or not it was morally acceptable for Gizmodo to purchase the iPhone and whether or not the phone should be considered stolen. After all, it does seem a bit sketchy that the guy who found the phone in the bar didn’t simply turn it in. He took the phone home with him and made a half-hearted attempt to find the owner before realizing that he had an Apple prototype on his hands. Many people are also saying that it was wrong of Gizmodo to publish the name and picture of Gray Powell, the software engineer that lost the phone, making a public mockery of him.
Gizmodo chose to purchase the lost or stolen iPhone and to publish pictures, video and information about its features, as well as to out Gray Powell. There is no doubt that by releasing this information Gizmodo managed to drive huge amounts of traffic to their site. However, do you think it was worth it, considering the humiliation they caused both Apple and Gray Powell? Do you think that Gizmodo was right in purchasing the prototype and publishing information about it without Apple’s consent, and possibly costing Gray Powell his career?