Gizmodo names Apple employee who lost the prototype "iPhone 4G"

Blogsite confirms it paid $5,000 to get the device but now "wants" to give it back.

[this is an un-edited version of a news story posted elsewhere on our site; there may be some differences wording]

Gizmodo has revealed that the person who lost the purported next generation iPhone is a 27-year-old Apple software engineer named Gray Powell, who probably will never again be as famous, or notorious, as he is right now. On Thursday night, March 18, Powell was enjoying apparently more than one imported beer at Gourmet Haus Staudt, a beer garden in Redwood City, California. Gizmodo’s account: “He was happy. The place was great. The beer was excellent. ‘I underestimated how good German beer is, he typed into the next-generation iPhone he was testing on the field, cleverly disguised as an iPhone 3GS. It was his last Facebook update from the secret iPhone. It was the last time he ever saw the iPhone, right before he abandoned it on bar stool, leaving to go home.”Oddly, Engadget had a similar overall story on Wednesday 17 April (the bar was in San Jose, California and the mystery device was found on the floor), and a grainy photo.Someone eventually picked up the “iPhone 4G” in the beer garden, and apparently eventually contacted Gizmodo, which paid $5,000 to get the device, as confirmed by Nick Denton, head of Gawker Media, which owns the Gizmodo blog. Earlier on Monday April 19, Denton had tweeted “Does Gizmodo pay for exclusives? Too right!”The person who eventually picked up the iPhone told Gizmodo that someone else had asked him if the phone, lying unattended on the bar stool was his. It wasn’t, nor did it belong to anyone else. The phone finder said that at first the handset looked just like a standard iPhone 3GS. Among the applications was the iPhone Facebook app, where the finder also found Powell’s Facebook page.That detail sheds a new light on the transaction between Gizmodo and the finder of Powell’s phone. It was only the next morning that the finder realized the handset was different. He never contacted Powell, but contacted Gizmodo instead and eventually negotiated a $5,000 pay day for someone else’s property.Gizmodo on Monday posted pictures and a video of the new phone, which seems to have a glass-like ceramic casing. A reader alert DaringFireball’s John Gruber to a 2006 Apple patent for ceramic enclosures for mobile devices. The non-metallic casing is essentially transparent to radio signals.According to the most recent Gizmodo blogpost, Powell graduated from North Carolina State University in 2006, and Gizmodo considers him a “talented amateur photographer” based on Powell’s Flickr photostream, which include several pictures of beer. Around 6 pm Eastern Time Monday April 19, Denton tweeted again: “iPhone update. We think we've identified the sorry Apple engineer who left the next-gen phone at the bar. Calling in a min.”The story includes the brief transcript of the civil exchange between Gizmodo’s John Herrman and Powell. “We have a device, and we think that maybe you misplaced it at a bar, and we would like to give it back,” Herrman says, revealing Gizmodo’s intentions for the phone for the first time. John Gruber had said on his blog that his sources indicated that Apple considered the phone “stolen” not “lost.”Powell replied: “Yeah, I forwarded your email [asking him if it was his iPhone], someone should be contacting you.”

The Gizmodo post was written by Jesus Diaz who condescendingly concludes: “He [Powell] sounded tired and broken. But at least, he's alive. And apparently, he may still be working at Apple. As it should be, because it's just a f****ing iPhone. It can happen to everyone, Gray Powell, Phil Schiller, you, me, and even Steve Jobs. Unlike Apple's legendary impenetrable security, breached by the power of German beer and one single human mistake.”

And, of course, $5,000.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for “Network World.”




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