By now, you probably have heard about the Apple iPhone G4 prototype, the German beer Garden, the embarrassed Apple tech employee, the unanswered calls by the phone finder, who eventually sold the phone to Gizmodo for $5,000.
You probably also heard that acting on a court order, California’s Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT), a special task force of police officers and federal agents created to combat computer-related crimes, raided the home of Gizmodo Editor Jason Chen last Friday. They frisked the editor and confiscated an alleged dozen pieces of computer equipment.
My first response was to be absolutely appalled. I have followed tech sector activities since 1979. I can tell you about all sorts of ugly plays, dirty tricks, double deals, private detectives tracking reporters and strange legal actions. But nothing, NOTHING equals have police break down a door and frisk an editor for a weapon more lethal than a keyboard.
Last night, I started to post on this subject. My original piece would have been filled with righteous indignity. I would have told you how much I like Apple products and how little I like the company.
But then I got thinking. It actually kept me up. The problem was that I only knew the Gizmodo version of what happened. From that perspective, Apple’s tactics have been pretty ugly and if you ask me, hard to overlook next time I need a piece of cool hardware.
The judge who issued the consent order very possibly heard a different version than the one that has been bopping around media since last Friday. With each iteration of the story, it becomes more generally accepted as gospel truth, which perhaps it may be.
But perhaps it is not. What if the prototype was not accidentally left behind? What if an “arrangement” had taken place between, the Apple tech guy, the finder and Gizmodo? What if the $5,000 price had been agreed to before the iPhone ever got dropped?
Then the whole story changes. The police in the night, bashing doors and frisking editors makes a little more sense.
Either way, something ugly has happened here. But I am now of the opinion that it may be wise to wait and see before we determine what the facts are and figure out just who did what to whom.