azurite: (cat and mouse)
Not having nor really wanting to own an iPhone so long as it's tied to AT&T in any size, shape, or form, I missed the news about an Apple employee accidentally losing a prototype of the new iPhone, and how someone else found it, tried to return it, got stonewalled by Apple (because they don't even tell their own employees everything), and then ended up selling* it to tech blog Gizmodo for $5K.

(* This is kind of disputed - keep reading.)

Until tonight, when I watched Jon Stewart's "Appholes" clip on a referral from a classmate. I didn't know it had escalated to the point where, though the phone had been returned by the Gizmodo editor who bought it (Jason Chen), Apple got San Mateo authorities to raid Chen's house on the suspicion that he had actually STOLEN the device, despite Chen's compliance with Apple's formal request to get the device back, and Gizmodo's posted (I think) reports on the device and how they acquired it.

Of course, Gizmodo's initial report DID leave some things why they paid $5K for it (supposedly this was an "exclusive access fee" and that Giz would help to return the device after their report. Still not cool, still legally gray, if not outright illegal in that it seems to be aiding in the "theft" of something that's clearly not theirs, bricked or not. Why did it take more than a month between the loss date and Gizmodo's first posting about the device? WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN THE MEANTIME? Or did it take weeks for Giz to even get the device, and it was the scuzball source who took so long hanging onto property that wasn't his?)

The person who found it had tried to contact Apple instead of the Apple employee whose name was so readily findable on the phone through the Facebook app, and was stonewalled due to Apple's own policies, but to go from there to trying to sell the device to tech blogs? Where the hell's the logic in that?

I can understand, at least in part, why Apple decided to call it "stolen" at that point: the employee lost it, couldn't get it back at the place where he lost it (presumably), couldn't get the contact of anyone who had found it (presumably), and was relying on that person to find him. Did they? No, apparently not, despite having access to his FACEBOOK account! (For at least a little while before the phone got bricked, anyway. But maybe not long enough to remember and find any useful contact information, but geez, there's way more to be done than that when a device like that is lost. But I guess people rightfully don't have much expectation of others being at all generous when their phone is lost or stolen, especially these days....)

So, who's in the wrong here? Well, one, for Gizmodo, for buying the phone and continuing to report on it, instead of directly contacting the guy who'd lost it or trying harder than their source to get in touch with Apple immediately. In that sense, they were handling stolen goods, rather than just something that was lost and found.

Two, the source, for not trying hard enough to contact the original Apple Engineer, for trying harder to get ahold of someone higher up at Apple, and of course, for selling the damn thing, which automatically seems to make the person less of a good samaritan and more of a profiteer. (Disclaimer: he was drunk when he found it, probably not-so-sober when he may have glanced at the Facebook app and seen the owner's real name, but not thought to write it down, and too late the next day when the phone got bricked. Could he still have done more? Yes, in my opinion. But maybe I just have high expectations/standards of people. Figure it this way: if you'd want me to go the distance for you and your property, I would: if you would for me. I don't have to know you, but I would, because to me, it's common decency.)

And yeah, Apple's in the wrong for pushing on the San Mateo authorities to the point of STORMING a journalist's home and taking his personal electronics, data, etc. (Maybe. It's possible that Apple really had nothing to do with it outside of providing them with the information that here was this guy who'd obtained a phone that they'd determined was Apple's property and he may have aided in a crime by purchasing it. Apple reports potential crimes! Good for them. Or something.) Supposedly they charged in during dinner--no knocking ahead of time, no calling on the phone. (ETA: "Dinner" being "out of the house." This wasn't made clear initially, so thanks to [ profile] azhp for clearing it up. And Chen was told he could get reimbursed for his bashed-in door. Why don't police just hire a lockpick?)

I agree with Stewart: "Appholes!" But I personally dislike them more for their partnership with AT&T than for this, because no matter what they told the SMPD, it's the police's fault for following bad information and for acting the way they did.

Gizmodo is staying silent on the issue of Chen's house more or less being raided on the iPhone posts, but they did share Chen's experience with the search online. They're also apparently promoting those blog posts/comments that agree with their POV and standing by Chen. On the one hand: good. They should stand by their reporter. Don't pretend that he's not/Gizmodo's not, because then Chen getting raided is only the result of their already dumb behavior, especially in regards to the Apple employee's identity and activity that resulted in the loss of the phone in the first place. (But the phone was bricked the day after it was lost right? Does that mean that Gizmodo's source didn't pass on the info about the Apple employee whose name was in the Facebook account?) They have a chance of fighting the SMPD's behavior toward Chen and possibly Apple if they stand by the fact that they're journalists and protect their sources with the shield law. But I don't know if their "source" deserves that kind of protection, even if Giz is otherwise a news organization.

Rival Engadget is not making a big deal out of this issue, likely because people already know that they were offered the same deal to buy the lost phone as Gizmodo was. Good for them.

Some people are thinking this was all a huge Apple PR stunt. I disagree: they're notorious for their secrecy, and I doubt that would abruptly change just to garner hype for an upcoming device. They do have controlled tests of their products, some of them going out into public in the hands of employees, and I think this was along those lines. The veil of secrecy gig works much more for them than "leaked product!1!!" does.

I'm basically confused here, because on the one hand, as a journalist, I value the shield laws more than the average person might. But I'm also an Apple fan, iPhone and AT&T opinions aside, and I know their attitude when it comes to corporate secrets. I don't always agree with it, but I know that if I trusted an employee with something, he accidentally lost it, and I tried to get it back, I'd defend him and anyone who didn't get in touch with either of us comes across as a thief.

I'm more pissed at the source that hung onto the phone than anyone else, and even as a journalist, even if I treat Gizmodo as a news organization despite THEIR poor decision-making, what benefit does it serve ANYONE to protect that source? I say: let 'em burn. He deserves whatever lawsuit is coming his way.
azurite: (Default)
I'm typing this on steph's iPhone. So not much to say now except I want one! Not on the AT&T network though. I'd rather wait for that partnership to end if it ever does. ILB, I'm still working on your fic. I'll try and get it (and Scrib's prologue to AoA, too) by new year's eve. It's all planned out but I don't like the prose I wrote so far. What is my "style" I wonder?

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