An interesting commentary from Digital Daily about the stolen iPhone fiasco and what it really means:
Both parties should be prosecuted. This whole episode amounts to corporate espionage. The seller, who should have turned the phone in under California law, is guilty of stealing as well as being complicit in the revealing of trade secrets. And Gizmodo's behavior is absolutely reprehensible as they are guilty of not only buying stolen property as defined under CA law, by their own proud admission, but also for revealing trade secrets obtained through illegal means. The feds should also be looking into this illegal activity and prosecuting on a federal level. With the highly competitive world we now live in, and with parties out there that are ready to steal, copy and rapidly manufacture others core technology, it is more important than ever for companies like Apple to keep their product development under tight security.
The sad thing is, Gizmodo totally missed the real story.
They thought the story was the specifics of the device, like how many pixels the screen has. They very clearly broke the law to get the device so that they could take it apart and expose whatever trade secrets it might reveal, breaking the law again. They took a tabloid mentality, equating "someone's secret" with "news." And at the end, they didn't find anything that we didn't already know about the 2010 iPhone through very well-traveled rumor. They made some very uninteresting photos of internal components that look like ... internal components. The exterior of the device is not even the exterior, that whole thing goes into an iPhone 3GS shell. That's all the exterior may be designed for. The volume buttons may have been expressly designed to be pressed by the toggle on the iPhone 3GS. The final phone may or may not look like anything like that.
The real story was the people, the espionage. An Apple baseband engineer carrying an iPhone 3GS which has had its guts replaced by prototype future-iPhone parts so he could field test the baseband without anyone realizing it is not just a regular iPhone 3GS. His name is on a list of people with pre-release phones that is kept by Steve Jobs personally. He leaves the phone behind in a bar on his birthday after drinking German beer. There is a final lonely Facebook update from the device. Someone finds the phone, figures out who owns it from the Facebook app, yet instead of returning it, or at least leaving it with the bartender or police, or even just returning it to Apple, he absconds with the phone, and starts auctioning it off to gadget blogs Engadget and Gizmodo. The phone is wiped remotely by Apple. Blurry photos of the partially disassembled phone are sent to each. Engadget consults their lawyer and declines to purchase the device. Gizmodo purchases it for $5000.
At that point, Gizmodo had a chance to be the hero of the piece. They could have said nothing about the device they purchased, done nothing to it, and turned it immediately in to Apple, saying they purchased it just to get it off the black market and back to its owner. They could even have refused to be reimbursed the $5000, which would buy them $25,000 in additional publicity, easy. Then they write the whole story but with themselves as Gizmodo the gadget hero. The story is not just of a lost prototype, but also a found prototype. They put a happy ending on the tale.
When the cops arrest the thief, Gizmodo is the hero again. Maybe they get their $5000 back also.
When the 2010 iPhone is introduced, Gizmodo is the hero again. When it's released, they're the hero. Every time they write about iPhone for the next year, they're the hero again.
Instead of outing the Apple engineer and making him a world famous stooge, people would be saying "Gizmodo saved that guy's job!"
Gizmodo would be the ones who returned the lost prototype iPhone forever.
And they would have made their competitor Engadget, who totally did the right thing, look like chumps who had a chance to rescue the prototype iPhone but no guts to pull the trigger. Got to be worth $5000 by itself.
The specifications of the 2010 iPhone pale in comparison to all of this. It has more storage and more pixels than the previous model! It contains a slightly larger battery and slightly tinier components than the previous model! Zzzzz.
Receiving stolen property puts you on the hook for 1 year in State Prison in California. There are 3 or 4 people at Gizmodo who are in that position.
If Apple sues them for the trade secrets part, they're liable not only for whatever damages Apple incurred, but Gizmodo have to give up 2 times whatever they made from it. Which will be easy for Apple to figure out since the ads on Gizmodo are done by Apple. (Yes, bizarre.)
So Gizmodo turned out not only to me made up of people with questionable ethics, but they're also very bad journalists, and *terrible* at PR