back to article 'iPhone 4G' loser outed

As promised, Gizmodo has identified the unfortunate soul who left his prototype iPhone 4G in a northern Silicon Valley pub. That'd be Gray Powell, a 27-year-old Apple software engineer working on the call-enabling iPhone Baseband Software. But before we tell his story as reported by Gizmodo, we feel compelled to first say …


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  1. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Player_16
      Jobs Horns

      You don't own/never seen an iPhone, do you?

      Try LOOKING at the pix next time before posting.

      This'll help.

      1. Sineira


        Looks like an iBelkin to me.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      That'll be..

      a protective case cover not a chassis case.

      easy mistake to make for someone not familier with the device and its range of expensive accessories...

  2. Sineira
    Jobs Horns

    Looses phone and bolts.

    Are you nuts?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Will people please learn to spell "lose" correctly.

      "Loose" is what a wizard's sleeve is.

    2. Stu Wilson
      Jobs Halo

      should have used the Joke ALert

      since you've been down-modded by someone with no apparant sense of humour.

  3. Andrew Tyler 1

    Laws and stuff...

    Seems to me there were at least a couple felonies leading up to Gizmodo getting all proud of itself. Might be a future in mugging Apple engineers as they're leaving work. Anything for the story.

  4. Joshua Goodall

    "checkbook journalism?"

    Naming the poor guy - not a public figure, after all - is really shitty behaviour. Adds nothing to the story. In particular, it ain't journalism. Barrel-scraping blogging maybe.

    1. Bassey

      Re: "checkbook journalism"

      > Naming the poor guy - not a public figure, after all - is really shitty behaviour.

      I agree it isn't nice but lets not kid ourselves that Gizmodo have somehow alerted Apple to Gray's absent mindedness. He would have had to confess right back when he lost it. First to get it disabled but also because he would need to sign the thing out and people would have come looking for it when it wasn't signed back in. The only thing Gizmodo have caused Gray is a great deal of embarrassment amongst any colleagues who weren't aware he'd lost it plus his mates down at the bar.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        RE: "checkbook journalism"

        I hope he realises that the phone was working and that they knew who the owner was before they took it apart.

        Then prehaps he'll be justified in going round to Gizmondo, knowing who owns the cars in their parking lot and "taking them apart" with a sledgehammer.

        That's what I'd do if someone knowingly destroyed my phone. Of course I'd be doubly pissed off if it was owned by my employers...

    2. hahnchen

      No it isn't.

      By naming him, and placing high visibility on this guy, it makes it less likely that Apple will fire him.

      1. Marvin the Martian

        How does that work?

        How is naming the guy making firing less probable? It's obvious he broke all kinds of secrecy clauses, and everybody knows, so not firing him tells all those still working that they can be as loose as they want and so even opens avenues for espionage (say you lose a device to an interested party, keep Apple job, be paid for "losing" half a year later --- safe!).

        This has nothing to do with "chequebook journalism"; naming names yes/no is obviously independent of paying for sources yes/no.

  5. Lance 3

    That someone will be a.......

    I figure the sharks will be released and that someone will be a corporate attorney.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      the website reports that Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell has requested that the on-the-lam iPhone 4G prototype be returned to Cupertino

  6. Greg J Preece

    Why name the poor sod?

    Publicly naming him seems like shit-stirring on 'Modo's part.

    What I'd like to know is, with the culture at Apple of absolute secrecy, checking employee correspondence etc, how the chuff did he end up with one in his back pocket at a bar?? How did he even get it out of the lab?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Field Trials

      You got to drop an iPhone into a pint (or litre if it's a german bar) and confirm it doesn't survive...

      I agree, naming the guy is below the belt, he's only 27 and will now be punished (can't think of a dire job at Apple though).

    2. Andrew James


      They've gotta run real world tests somewhere. Stories over the last couple of years have shown various new iPhone versions popping up in app usage logs in the real world prior to the official release. Probably just the same thing here.

      Obviously they had to disguise the phone in a normal case to make it less conspicuous for day to day use.

      Its a pretty handsome looking device though. I'd like to see them ditch the black back and go with a brushed metal with no seams though.

      No further mentions here of the storage capacity? This was reported as supposedly being 80gb on engadget i think.

    3. Paul 25

      Standard practice

      I've got friends who worked for Nokia and Vodaphone and it was fairly standard practice for employees of both manufacturers and networks to use prototype phone in the real-world to get an idea of how well they perform.

      They also get lost all the time, the reason you don't tend to hear about it is that mostly people are not that interested in the next minor increment of a Nokia, but are obsessed by everything iPhone related.

      Given that this guy appears to be working on the baseband software (i.e. what connects the phone to the network), then it would be reasonable that he might have one with him to test out the reception and call handling.

      Also, naming the guy really sucks. Gizmodo should be ashamed of themselves. There was no need to name the guy, he's probably in enough trouble as it is, there's no need to make sure that he is forever-more known as "the guy that left his 4G iPhone in a bar".

      1. Anonymous Coward

        no it's not that we are not interested

        ... it's just that when we find a nokia phone on the street we assume someone just missed the bin and finish the job.

        1. chr0m4t1c

          Tut, tut

          You should be recycling those phones!

          Mind you, I'm not sure how Mazuma et al would be able to value an unreleased prototype, but there's a good chance it's worth more than their £150 (£100?) maximum anyway.

          Maybe that's what the guy who found it was doing, it's just that Gizmondo gave him the best price.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Outing the guy - not cool

    in fact, I'd say Gizmodo have acted dishonourably throughout this episode. Remember that Apple shut down Think Secret for merely being in possession of information that represented trade secrets, let alone actual hardware

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Either a loser or a brilliant publicist

    Having worked with cellphone testing years ago ( still at same company but different work, hence the anon post ) and been allowed to muck around with early prototypes, my first thought was that that was an incredibly stupid thing to do - prototypes at that stage shouldn't be allowed outside of the lab. After all, consultants like me have to sign NDAs to be allowed anywhere near such things and everyone gets a list of security classifications to study.

    However, the Reg's suggestion that this might part of a publicity stunt by Apple is interesting - something as mundane as a drunken idiot leaving a phone at a pub when he probably shouldn't have had it with him anyway is no where near as appealing. Surely he can't be THAT stupid?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mind you isn't....


    A. Theft - Taking a piece of property knowing it not to be yours and not handing it to Police or the owner.

    B. Criminal Damage - One assumes the now broken open phone would no longer be usable.

    And so on, I look forward to seeing the prosecutions. Maybe the thief, has broken the three strikes law, and will get life.

    BTW. Hasn't our errant engineer heard of locking your phone?

    1. Cameron Colley

      Don't forget:

      Handling stolen goods on the part of Gizmodo...

    2. Marvin the Martian

      Give or take?

      If you find stuff like that, you'd normally give it to the bar owner, as you have other things to do than hang around waiting for someone to get back to you.

      My experience with London bars and restaurants has however been that the staff see it as a tip and loot it (experience is 2x "disappeared" when definitely handed in, 1x returned).

      So with a working phone it seems obvious: go to most commonly used contact in the call list & ask "whose phone is this? tell him to come get in bar X" and/or see where the browser history takes you (prompted names at a gmail or hotmail login page, facebook app autologin, etc) to email the relevant blighter, and only then leave it.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I still reckon...

    ...that this is some kind of publicity stunt.

    If it is, Apple have played a blinder.

  11. Piro Silver badge

    At least it looks like a good place to drink

    From the pictures on the site! At least it wasn't a trendy city bar.

    Still, why on earth would you have a prototype phone with you when you were out getting pissed?

  12. Stone Fox

    it's interesting

    that the guy still has a job...

  13. J 12
    Jobs Halo

    Good at his job?

    I hope the dude is bloody good at his job.......

  14. Mage Silver badge
    Black Helicopters


    Viral marketing?

    The worlds most Appleish Gadget site happens to get it?

    My credulity that it was lost by accident and Gizmodo happened to get it seriously stretched.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Shame on Gizmodo

    What a sordid, nasty little outfit. They deserve the legal shitstorm they have coming to them

    And the unfortunate soul they named-and-shamed? Presumably he had a 7 a.m. meeting with Steve Jobs. That can't have been pleasant. Still, with 'Apple' on his CV he won't have problems finding employment elsewhere.

    1. Marcus Aurelius

      Future employment???

      "Still, with 'Apple' on his CV he won't have problems finding employment elsewhere"

      I think that "If you want your sooper-sekret shiny prototype outed to the world, just give it to me with some beer money" will be a slight hindrance to employment prospects

  16. Alasdair 3
    Jobs Horns

    it was ..

    planted ... Media Frenzy - all the free advertisement you need.

  17. Lee Dowling Silver badge

    Bad, bad, bad journalism.

    Personally, I think this is disgusting. First, the guy hung onto the phone in order to return it to the owner - the owner didn't appear so the guy TAKES THE PHONE HOME? What the hell? What about handing it into the bar, or the cops?

    Then he decides to "just switch it on" and play around with it - a bit dubious but I could understand it if they intended to find numbers for, e.g. "Mum" or "Dad" and return the phone. No, they piss about with the applications and load up some poor guys Facebook (presumably logging themselves in as him in the process). They then decide to publish those details on the Internet.

    Then, when the phone is remotely disabled because it's presumed (and damn well has been) stolen, they go about dismantling the damn thing? At what point did journalism turn into theft, destruction of private property, etc.? (I was going to add "breaching personal privacy" to that list but that's apparently been a part of modern journalism for a while now).

    Damn right they end up speaking to a lawyer... hope they learn their lesson by getting themselves sued. Handling stolen goods springs to mind for one. This is a disgusting bit of "journalism" and I'm disappointed that The Register sees it fits to just echo the story.

  18. Falanx

    Re: Why name the poor sod?

    Because there' s nothing like riding the wave of iPad indifference into fresh new rolling vistas of free PR for another upcoming sh*tty device by 'accidentally' leaking a hush-hush prototype to the kind of bottom-dollar journoscum that Gizmodo have become.

    What other kind of twisted reality do you expect from those fruit?

  19. Thomas 4
    Black Helicopters

    One bit of this story doesn't add up...

    This mysterious "unidentified person" that nabbed said iPhone and was also responsible for selling this story to Giz and Engadget - if he really was just some random person, would he honestly have cracked the case on this device? The average person on the street certainly wouldn't have done so and a lot of tech people wouldn't have risked damaging the phone by taking it apart.

    I call bull**** here.

    1. Andrew James


      Case meaning aftermarket phone protecting shell... Not case meaning the plastic shell surrounding the innards of every iPhone to date.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Case = covering of innards

        Actually, the pictures put up before the Gizmo sale show the insides of the device, as well as posted specs of battery, etc.

        Sorry - not *just* the aftermarket case, but the device housing as well.

  20. ChrisB 2

    This is probably a set-up

    Loads of free publicity for Apple. I really don't think this was a drunken mistake. By anyone.

  21. richard 69

    apple, notorious for secrecy...

    lets an employee wander into a german beer bar with a new product. that product then ends up on several hi-tech websites a few months before was even on the daily fails website!!!

    if it smells like a set must be a set up....

    wonder what beer he was drinking?

  22. The BigYin

    Nice PR stunt

    And it seems to be working.

  23. BeefStirFry

    Why not...

    Just call the phone when he woke up next morning with his hangover... and if no answer, then track the GPS using MobileMe... I can't believe that Apple would let an iPhone out into the wild without have GPS location tracking turned on.

    IF its real, I can only think that the employees are indoctrinated to turn themselves in instantly if they make a mistake and own up to whatever they have done, and the Apple security team activated the Remote Wipe as a precaution, rather than try and track it down.

    1. Andrew James

      GPS location.

      What would be a faster way to protect your new product? Clicking a button labelled "remote wipe" or clicking the button labelled "view location on map" and then navigating your way there and hoping it was still in the same place?

      Of course it makes most sense to turn it into a useless brick as quickly as possible. Worry about the dead hardware later. First things first, kill the software and stop anyone finding out all its new tricks.

  24. SlabMan

    Dear conspiracy theorists

    Please explain how a leak that dents sales of your current product is sound business strategy?

  25. abigsmurf


    Gizmodo are handling stolen property, they've vandalised said property. They've publicly named the poor sap who lost it...

    Wow. That website seems to have some right scumbags for journalists.

    This is the same website that thought it was hilarious a few years back to take a universal remote to CES and turn off all the TVs in as many stands as they could. They even did this during important presentations.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Universal remote

      "This is the same website that thought it was hilarious a few years back to take a universal remote to CES and turn off all the TVs in as many stands as they could."

      What's wrong with that- it _is_ hilarious. Were you perchance personally affected by this? Sounds like you hold a grudge...

  26. spencer

    guerrilla marketing?

    I really wouldn't put it past apple to deliberately set up a stunt like this. Gizmondo is part of the tame apple press after all.

  27. Tony Davenport 1


    If it was remotely wiped through MobileMe, why didn't they do a location track on it first?! We heard loads of press reports when the feature appeared of people recovering their lost or stolen iPhones, but Apple can't use it to retrieve their super secret new prototype?

    Tony Davenport

  28. LinkOfHyrule


    Who gives a frig. Naming the bloke who lost it is low. Paying money for a phone which is probably legally classed as stolen goods is low and I am low for being hooked on reading these reports!

    The iPhone is the to tech what Jade Goodey was to mainstream populist media. Actually, that's offensive to Jade saying that. She was much less common than the iPhone!

    *I could of said Paris instead of Jade but I'm kicking it oldskool.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      re: "*I could of (sic) said Paris instead of Jade but I'm kicking it oldskool."

      It sounds like you have rarely kicked it skool, old or otherwise- and were generally to be found having a crafty fag behind the bike sheds.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Are you sure that she was less common?

      It takes _A LOT_ of exposure to different strains of papilloma to end up where she ended so I would not be so sure about the "less common" statement.

      In any case - who gives a flying f*** how it looks. What is more interesting is what does the phone and especially its baseband support (3.5G? WiMax? LTE?). However, as a result of the wonderful level of journalism demonstrated by Gizmodo we are not going to get to any of that.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can we have footage

    of the river currently forming in front of Steve Jobs' tear ducts?

    It would make my day.

  30. Andus McCoatover

    Borked? I call "FAKE story."

    OK, apart from the eloquent reasoning by "RegisterFail" (in summary, GPS locator, 'just happens to fall into the right hands', etc), borking a phone aint the best way to find it. Depends on the level of borking, natch.

    Here, we lose phones all the bloody time. Bars, etc. When found, either the finder hands it over to the bar staff (who plug it into a charger to keep it alive - my local bar's got a charger for most phones still breathing) or the finder will do the same at home. Finns are generally very honest folks.

    Said Boozer-loser will, once his head clears use his/her partner's phone, or his mate's to call it. The bar staff/finder answers, phone recovered shortly. Pints all round.

    So, if they borked incoming, no chance. If the phone was stolen, and outgoing blocked too, no evidence, as the tea-leaf's gonna call all his mates, granny, etc*. Traceable, but also evidence.

    * Unless he's pissing off his mate bigtime. Heard a story awhile ago about an airline pilot who had a row with his girlfriend. When he went on a long-haul trip for a week, she nicked his phone, and called the NY speaking clock, and left it on. Phone calls were'nt cheap then...Nasty. £40,000 bill, IIRC.

  31. MnM

    apple/gizmodo - friends?

    Not keeping up with these things, I'm not sure if Gizmodo already shared the Apple blacklist with El Reg (probably, given that they don't seem to give a toss), but a change there might be instructive.

    As for all the worthy/legally qualified handling stolen goods folk... you prawns!

  32. DrXym

    Stolen property

    Walking off with someone's property is theft. Selling said property onto to another is handling. Receiving stolen goods is also handling.

    Bloggers always trip over themselves to take pics of an iphone but in this instance I think their behaviour borders on the criminal.

    Putting that aside, I don't see much about the device to get excited about.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    If this is the whole story

    Poor guy.

    Who hasn't left something in a pub? Now he's going to get a comprehensive iPad-beating and a couple of months locked up in Steve's dungeon.

    1. thorx

      unless this is all misdirection..

      apple always keep things secret until the last minute before launch. it seems a bit odd that this has been allowed to happen regardless of whether the poor guy left it by mistake or not.

      what if this is apple at its best trying to misdirect the media and all fanbois while they are secretly working on something completely different...

      yes it sounds like a lot of bother to go through, but i wouldn't put it past the evil but well designed empire...

  34. Jimbo 6
    Jobs Horns

    iPhone loser

    Isn't that a tautology ?

  35. Anonymous Coward

    free advertising

    FFS. Jobs must be laughing all the way to the bank with this one. one 'lost' prototype (cost = few thousand) is now getting all the top news articles on all the gadget sites, a major Tweet and Facebook fest etc etc. this is stuff that money cant buy and is making a lovely big buzz for the new device...heck. why pay for any more of those stupid white background apple adds at this rate... just leave the next device in a bar.

  36. Ex Pat Tyke

    Suggests it's rubbish...

    The fact that this guy's left his phone in a bar suggests it's a rubbish phone and that he was after something decent as a replacement - HTC or Blackberry perhaps?

    Worked for a while for a company with a large mobile sales force and it very quickly became apparent which phones were liked and which were not - there was a very high mortality rate of second rate handsets while anything half decent tended to be looked after. Favourite means of disposal included dropping in a puddle (or in a toilet on several occasions - reduced the chances of the handset being examined or repaired), leaving it at a client's premises (never found by the client of course), and one of the commonest, leaving it in a pub/ bar, always while on company business of course.

    I can just see this guy calling the office - " lost that last phone you gave me, entertaining clients last night, left it on the bar while settling the tab. Not been handed in as far as I know - can I have something that actually gets a signal this time by the way? Oh it has been found - who by? Oh f***.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unlikely to be a plant, and guy's in the sh't now.

    This is probably what it seems at face value: a genuine mistake coupled with some nasty gutter journalism. Hey, Gizmodo, why not wait outside Steve's house and buy his trash? anything for a story, eh..

    For what it's worth, the 3GS was extensively field-tested for months before its official launch. A hundred or so "lucky" employees were given handsets and sent to various places - many of these places were even outside California (gasp!) - in order to test the 3G performance on different operator networks.

    The MO was the same as this: the "new" handsets were glued into hard cases to hide their different dimensions. The tester I knew had used the unit as their main phone for the duration - this is the only way to properly test it.

    Field testing is essential for mobile devices - you can't do it all in the lab. Mobile networks are less homogenous than you think and any given manufacturer's base-station equipment can play better with some handsets than others.

    None of this changes the fact that Gizmodo engaged in what is probably a criminal offence in CA - handling stolen goods. Naming the victim was the last straw: this guy has already had an earful, and won't be getting any options this November. All this so some idiots who'd have bought the damn thing anyway can see an early pic of the next Apple product? It's hardly Public Interest, is it?

    And yes, there are bad jobs in Apple...

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't drop the soap Nick...

    I would not be surprised if Apple press charges against the guy who sold the phone to Gizmodo or against Gizmodo themselves. The signal which Gizmodo sent out (whether they meant to or not) is 'make money quickly by mugging engineers'.

    Apple (and all other gadget manufacturers) might prefer another message - i.e. steal our stuff you'll be swapping soap (among other things) with the boys in Folsom.

    PS: Phones being stolen was a problem around a certain phone manufacturers offices in London, but it wasn't due to people trying to steal prototypes - that was just London being a shit-hole.

  39. Andy Enderby 1

    well there you go....

    first mistake - German beer...... With the Belgians fine products next door.....

    Mines a Westvleteren please.

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