So it’s all over bar the wailing and screaming.
It turns out that Gizmodo had this iPhone 4G prototype for a week. They bought it for US$5000 from a guy who “found it in a bar”. Apparently it had iPhone OS 4.0 on it at that point, but was quickly disabled by Apple so that only a very high resolution iTunes sync screen could be seen. And yet in all the time Gizmodo had it they didn’t manage to make one shot of that screen? A lot of things there just don’t add up.
There are rumors that Steve Jobs spoke off the record with Gizmodo asking for the device to be returned. But they are just rumors.
Finally though Apple Senior VP and General Counsel Bruce Sewell sent a letter to Gizmodo asking for the device to be returned. This is the final confirmation that this is indeed a device of some sort that does originate from Apple.
The questions we need to ask now are:
Is this anything like the iPhone 4G or iPhone HD we expect to see in June / July? Bearing in mind that shots of this phone have been around since February I am not convinced that it is the final design. Apple are known to make many iterative design changes, and many prototypes, leading up to a final product definition.
Will Apple take action against Gizmodo? Even Gizmodo’s email back to Apple is strange, and somewhat disingenuous. They refer to the prototype iPhone as “stolen”, whereas Apple’s letter gives no indication of this information. So when did Gizmodo learn that it was stolen if they had not spoken to Apple before? And if they knew it was stolen, and have not spoken to Apple before now, they have broken the law?
Gizmodo have also posted a veritable novel where they publicly crucify the Apple employee who “lost” the phone, and give lots of background, without elaborating on their own involvement. They have technically received stolen property knowingly. But proving that the original guy who “found” the phone “stole” it is going to be hard, as he did allegedly try to contact Apple and even got a “ticket number” from them. Unfortunately for Apple the message didn’t seem to make it to the upper echelons of the company. And although Gizmodo bought the iPhone prototype they have always said it was Apple’s and all Apple had to do was ask for it back.
I wonder if Apple will take this any further. Personally I doubt it. But what was a low level employee doing with sensitive equipment off campus? On the one hand this kind of suggests this is a very old prototype. Perhaps even more goodness is yet to come in the real iPhone 4G?
We now know though, that an iPhone prototype exists which has a front and rear facing camera, a flash, a higher resolution screen, more than 64GB of on board storage, and perhaps a different kind of casing from any previous iDevice.
Do you think this it the iPhone we will see in June or July? Let us know in the comments.
Letter from Apple to Gizmodo :