RSS
iPhone 4G scandal: Who it helps (and hurts)
"Gizmodo-gate" — the remarkable story of how far tech bloggers will go for an Apple scoop — has had both upsides and downsides for the key players
 
Could the unexpected leak of iPhone 4G impact iPhone 3G sales?
Could the unexpected leak of iPhone 4G impact iPhone 3G sales?
Getty

It started as a fun story for gadget enthusiasts — how technology site Gizmodo purchased, and subsequent reported on, a "stolen" Apple iPhone 4G prototype — but after police raided the home of the Gizmodo blogger who wrote the original post, it's become a high-stakes legal saga with curious consequences for all involved, including Apple. (Watch an NBC report about the iPhone leak's impact on Apple.) Here's how "Gizmodo-gate" has both helped and hurt the key players:

GAWKER MEDIA, Parent company of Gizmodo
Upside: Its revelatory iPhone 4G stories were both a traffic and publicity triumph — attracting more than 10 million visitors to Gizmodo.com and worldwide media attention.
Downside: Gawker could face felony charges related to its $5,000 purchase of iPhone prototype (which may have been "stolen" property under CA law); also, the company has been widely criticized for stooping to "check-book journalism" to get a scoop.

JASON CHEN, Gizmodo reporter/editor who broke the iPhone 4G story
Upside: Chen broke the biggest technology news story in recent memory; media watchers were buzzing that he might get the top job at Gizmodo, one of the most popular blogs on the internet.
Downside: He could face felony charges — and up to a year in prison — related to his role in the iPhone purchase.

APPLE, Maker of the iPhone
Upside: The company received a boatload of free publicity for their upcoming iPhone 4G release.
Downside: Fairly or not, the affair has reinforced the perception that CEO Steve Jobs is "secretive," "controlling," "paranoid," and "vengeful"; if a lowly blogger goes to jail, that might not look good for the tech giant that requested the investigation.

GRAY POWELL, Apple engineer who lost the iPhone prototype while drinking at a German beer garden
Upside: Against all odds, Powell so far seems to have kept his job; Lufthansa offered him a free trip to Germany to indulge his "passion for German beer and culture"; and he's suddenly a "cult hero."
Downside: He's also now notorious for committing the biggest blunder in Apple history (not counting the decision to greenlight the Newton).

BRIAN J. HOGAN: Sold Powell's iPhone to Gawker Media
Upside: Hogan is $5,000 richer (temporarily, at least); he hasn't yet been charged with a crime.
Downside: Could face felony charges for selling stolen property; unlikely to ever be hired by Apple.

[UPDATE: Wired has identified the seller of the iPhone prototype: 21-year-old Brian J. Hogan of Redwood City, CA]

Sources: Gizmodo (2), Ozcar Guide, Daily Tech, Daily Finance, Law.com, PC World (2), CNET, CBS News, Wired, ABC News

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week