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Gizmodo pays $5K for iPhone HD: "checkbook journalism" [u]

updated 11:25 pm EDT, Mon April 19, 2010

Prototype rumored to cost $10,000

Gawker Media founder Nick Denton has confirmed that Gizmodo procured an alleged iPhone HD prototype through a payment to the source, according to several Twitter posts. Although the publishing chief has yet to disclose how much the blog paid for to get its hands on the pre-release device, MobileCrunch points to rumors suggesting the price was set at $10,000.

"Yes, we're proud practitioners of checkbook journalism," Denton wrote. "Anything for the story!"

The prototype was allegedly lost by its owner in a Redwood City bar, with the exterior shrouded by an iPhone 3G case. A more recent tweet suggests that Gawker has identified "the sorry Apple engineer who left the next-gen iPhone at the bar," although no further details have been provided.

Denton claims the full backstory surrounding the iPhone prototype will be published in the future. "And it's a corker." [via Daring Fireball]

Update: The Associated Press notes that Gizmodo paid $5,000 for the device, about half of the originally estimated $10,000 price tag.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. azrich

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2010


    Paid for the phone?

    Well, doesn't that sound like buying property that doesn't belong to the seller? Which makes it trafficking in stolen property. Even if the original property is lost, this could still be a criminal offense. Is there a journalistic protection against a prosecution of this sort?

    Hope it's worth it!

  1. Mixotic

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2005



    Receiving stolen property is a felony in California (if the property is worth more than $300). If the cops deem that it is in fact stolen, then I would expect charges to be filed.

  1. exca1ibur

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Oct 2000



    Sounds like theft to me as well. Buying and selling stolen property.

  1. 010111

    Junior Member

    Joined: Aug 2002



    well wouldn't the party it was stolen from then have to file a police report?

    think about it.

    if Apple did that... then they would be confirming that it was *in fact* the new iPhone. months ahead of schedule. if they say and do nothing... then the rumors and hype can still be left flying around for those months. might be worth a few months of increased rumors on the matter. Apple could even categorically deny it ("no clue what that is... an impressive knock-off though!") ... *increasing* the rumors and hype.

    i have no idea what will happen... just throwing that out there.

  1. stevesnj

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Apr 2003



    It's lost property not stolen, if apple files a report of stolen goods then it may be an offense. Otherwise, finders keepers.

  1. rtamesis

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Jan 2000


    Think again, stevesnj

    Here in California, the finder of a lost item is required to alert the police and return it to its owner. it doesn't matter if the owner reports it as lost or stolen. Gizmodo may therefore be guilty of buying stolen goods.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. ilovestevejobs

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2007



    Well I can hear a cricket in the audience when steve blowjobs announces the new iphone :))

    People will be like "Ummm yeah we knew way ahead of time. But thats ok steve we also know your pretty much out of date with what consumers want as well"

    boo-hiss :D

  1. azrich

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2010


    I see your point..

    about what happens if Apple claims it, and you're correct there would have to be a victim in this case.

    Stevesnj- you are correct it was lost property. Until the finder converted it to his own use and didn't make a reasonable effort to find the owner or turn it in to police. At least that's how it works in AZ. For example, look at those cases where a bag of money falls off a armored car and the finders get in trouble for keeping the money. I would never equate the intent to that of a conscious thief, but it's still theft.

    Now, in this case the whole reason it would be worth $10k (if this actually happened) is BECAUSE it belongs to Apple. If it were a regular iPhone and someone sold it after finding it, that would still be a crime (in AZ).

    Still, Apple would have to claim it as you both point out. I really don't see a downside to them claiming it, but I'm not in the biz. I'm sure there are those out there that will believe this is just a very clever publicity stunt on Apple's part.

    Don't know if this will make anyone feel better, but I remember a nice story which happened about 10 years ago when I was on light duty and helping out property. Someone had found a billfold with about $200 in it in a local downtown business around Christmas time. S/he turned it into the PD and after a certain time period it was still unclaimed so the finder got to keep it. Of course, there's no cool prototype in that story :)

    Does that resolution (4x the original) seem to be a WHOLE lot of pixels in such a small space? If I was better at math I could figure out how the density compares to my 17" MBP which has 1920x1200.


  1. chas_m



    Cue the lawyers in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

    Under California law, both the original "finder" (yeah, I'm really believing he waited for the engineer to come back ... 10 seconds counts as "waiting," right?) and Gizmodo/Gawker acted unlawfully.

    I'm not a lawyer, but I've been involved enough in "trade secret" cases to know that Apple is very likely to take legal action over this. They've certainly got enough of a case for the lawyers to play with.


    Professional Poster

    Joined: Feb 2000


    Plausible deniability

    Whats the statute of limitations on receiving stole property. Apple could just wait till the release the next phone and then file charges. The cats out of the bag now if it is next iPhone. The charges will be good to deter the next guy.

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