Apple Demands Return of iPhone Prototype

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Gizmodo paid $5000 for an iPhone 4GS prototype found in a bar, and now Apple wants it back

Apple has written a stiff letter to gadget site Gizmodo demanding the return of a prototype of the next generation iPhone, which the site acquired for $5000 after an Apple employee lost it.

Pictures of the iPhone 4G prototype surfaced on the Engadget site, after Apple engineer Gray Powell dropped it in a bar near the company’s headquarters. Now the company has demanded its return from Gizmodo, the gadget site which apparently paid $5,000 to buy the device from the unnamed person who picked it up.

Give us back our iPhone

Engadget's images of the Apple iPhone 4G
Engadget

“This letter constitutes a formal request that you return the device to Apple” says the Apple letter, apparently proving this is indeed a prototype of the next generation of iPhone, which had been cleverly hidden inside an iPhone 3GS case.

The phone was “bricked” (shut down remotely), so Gizmodo was unable to reveal any further information about the operating system beyond what Apple previewed earlier this month –  but Gizmodo reports some interesting hardware changes.

The new iPhone’s front-facing camera for video chat was the feature that gave it away to the person who picked it up. It also uses the smaller micro-SIM instead of a normal SIM, a feature which could lock users into iPhone, and which has been criticised in the iPad. Other additions include a better display and camera (now with a flash apparently), and the whole thing is “squarer”, with an entirely flat back.

Gizmodo says it will follow Apple’s instructions, and the owner of Gizmodo parent Gawker media defended buying the device, saying he would “do anything for a story” in a tweet. Engadget, which published photos first, apparently lost out, or declined to join a bidding war for the device.

Daily Finance, a sister site of Engadget, condemned Gizmodo’s practice of “checkbook journalism”, spending $5000 to buy roughly two million hits per hour on the site, with little regard to the legalities – but Denton says he researched the legal side and concluded Gizmodo was within its rights, and is planning to return the device.

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