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New iPhone leak tied to Apple engineer's loss

updated 08:45 pm EDT, Mon April 19, 2010

iPhone HD left at bar in accident

Full details posted tonight have revealed that the next-generation iPhone's leak into blogger hands was the result of a simple accident. An Apple software engineer working on iPhone baseband firmware, Gray Powell, is said to have left his disguised phone at the Gourmet Haus Staudt in Redwood City where the still-unnamed discoverer found it. He purportedly waited for Powell to come back, but after the programmer didn't return, he ended up with the phone.

The owner's identity and significance were only discovered after checking the Facebook app, which was signed in, and finding a trio of mystery labels. It only worked briefly as, by the morning, it had been remotely wiped through MobileMe; the opportunity made the finder realize that the shell was a disguise and that this was a pre-release iPhone. Gizmodo allegedly paid up to $10,000 -- in what it says was "checkbook journalism" -- to obtain the phone weeks later.

Powell has been contacted and is aware of what's happened, but he "can't really talk too much right now." What discipline if any has been taken against him hasn't been discovered, but Gizmodo may have made arrangements to return the phone to Apple.

The discovery is an uncharacteristic breach of Apple's security but was potentially difficult for the company to avoid. As with most phones, the iPhone needs to be tested in actual conditions to gauge the effectiveness of the cellular connection for voice and data. While early testing can sometimes be done with generic "mule" phones, it eventually needs to test the real device to check interference. Security is typically looser at companies like Google, where the Nexus One was readily made public by employees and connections that hadn't been held to non-disclosure agreements.

Why the tech news site chose to return the phone only after breaking the story has already raised questions about the ethics of the breach, as it wasn't necessary to learn the owner's name before returning the prototype to Apple.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. minimansion

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2001

    +7

    WOW

    I can hear Steve now!!

  1. grantwood

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2010

    +20

    Why Release the Guilty Party's Name?

    I like hearing about Apple rumors, but releasing the guilty party's name sounds like something TMZ.com would do.

  1. Herod

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2007

    0

    pack your bags.

    someone is getting fired.

  1. chas_m

    Joined:

    +5

    Correction

    Someone is getting sued.

    And it's not Gray Powell.

    PS. Who names their kid "Gray"?

  1. gudin

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2000

    +10

    Ugh

    The engineer screwed up, yes. The finder and Gizmodo may have committed crimes.

  1. facebook_George

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Apr 2010

    +10

    George Huger

    Gray is an extremely talented engineer, a fiercely loyal Apple employee, and an all around great person.

    I'm hopeful that Apple will be wise enough to keep him on, as they're not going to find a more passionate and talented developer. In the event he is available for hire, he would be a great asset to any company lucky enough to snap him up.

  1. Darchmare

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2009

    +1

    FB George

    You know Gray personally?

  1. sammaffei

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2004

    -6

    Short of it being pick pocketed from him...

    I think Gray is too stupid to be a "well paid" Apple engineer if he lost the extremely valuable prototype phone whilst boozing it up.

    Am I being harsh? h*** no! I paid $500 for my 3G S and I watch that thing like a hawk when I have it on me. This guy had the "Holy Grail" of tech toys and probably lost it due to "one too many."

    Probably drove home half smashed too...

  1. caribousteaks

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2004

    +3

    comment title

    Poor Gray, must be a charred Black by now? or maybe just white coals? Dude must have had the worst night of his life, knowing Stevie was going to launch an ICBM into him the next morning. I'd just go back to the bar and start drinking again and not stop until they threw me in jail. Safer there anyway!

  1. tortenteufel

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2007

    +1

    Lighten up

    It's only a feunnn. Not the answer to the meaning of life (I guess).

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