Feeds

'Lost' iPhone 4G brouhaha: Jobs gets on the job

Femme fatale unmasked prototype-napper

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Apple CEO Steve Jobs intervened in the Case of the Purloined iPhone, personally contacting Gizmodo editor Brian Lam to ask for the return of the missing iPhone 4G prototype.

That tidbit - told by Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell to Detective Matthew Broad of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office - was revealed today by the unsealing of the search warrant behind the search of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home. A copy of the full set of search warrant documents can be found here (thanks, Wired).

In addition to Jobs' direct involvement in the case, Det. Broad's detailed recounting of the events leading up to the search of Chen's home is chock-full of intrigue. Some high points:

  • In a meeting on April 20 with Sewell, Apple lawyer George Riley, and Apple director of information security Rick Orloff, Det. Broad asked Riley what the value of the missing iPhone was. Riley said it was "invaluable".
  • In the same meeting, Orloff said that he had been called by a woman who identified herself as Katherine Martinson, who told him that her roommate, Brian Hogan, had sold the now-famous phone to Gizmodo.
  • Martinson called the cops because Hogan had hooked the purloined phone up to her computer, and she feared that Apple would trace the phone to her by way of her IP address. She also called Apple, as Det. Broad put it, "in order to absolve herself of criminal responsibility.
  • After his website had released its original iPhone 4G story, and after he had been contacted by Steve Jobs, Gizmodo editor Brian Lam wrote Steve Jobs an "off the record" email, reproduced in full in the affidavit, asking Jobs to confirm that the phone was an actual Apple prototype: "I want to get this phone back to you ASAP. And I want to not hurt your sales when the products themselves deserve love. But I have to get this story of the missing prototype out, and how it was returned to apple, with some acknowledgement it is Apple's."
  • In that same email, Lam wrote: "I know you like walt [Mossberg] and [David] pogue, but I think Gizmodo has more in common with old Apple than those guys do. So I hope you understand where I'm coming from."
  • In a subsequent email to Sewell providing Apple with Jason Chen's address, Lam included a postscript: "I hope you take it easy on the kid who lost it. I don't think he loves anything more than Apple except, well, beer. Maybe some spankings."
  • After he found the phone, Hogan told Martinson that he had discovered that it belonged to Apple engineer Gray Powell through Powell's Facebook page, presumably accessed using the phone. Martinson and Hogan then "conducted an Internet search" for Powell, and learned that he was an Apple engineer.
  • In Det. Broad's words, "Martinson said Hogan understood that he possessed a valuable piece of technology and that people would be interested in buying it. He subsequently contacted the periodicals Gizmodo.com, PC World, and Engadget.com in an attempt to start bidding for the iPhone prototype."
  • Martinson said that 10 days later, Jason Chen offered Hogan $10,000 for the phone. When she asked him why Gizmodo would pay that much, Hogan offered the opinion that: "They know its valuable. They would receive millions and millions of hits."
  • Martinson said that she and friends tried to talk Hogan out of selling the phone, arguing that doing so would sink Powell's career. Hogan's response, according to Martinson: "Sucks for him. He lost the phone. Shouldn't have lost the phone."
  • Hogan later showed Martinson a camera box that contained $5,000 in hundred-dollar bills, and told her that the full amount that he had received from Gizmodo was $8,500, and that he was due a cash bonus from Gizmodo "if and when" Apple announced the new iPhone.
  • While Det. Broad was preparing a search warrant for Hogan's home, he received a phone call from Martinson telling him that Hogan and his roommate Thomas Warner, in Det. Broad's words, "were aware of the investigation and were in the process of removing evidence [a CompactFlash card with photos of the phone, the phone's serial-number sticker, and the like] from the residence".
  • Det. Broad responded, and eventually found Hogan at his parents' house. There Hogan told him that Warner had taken the evidence in order to "protect" him.
  • Hours later, Det. Broad found Warner, who told him that he had lost the missing iPhone's serial-number sticker at a gas station. After a record check turned up the fact that Warner had two outstanding misdemeanor warrants, he was handcuffed and placed in a patrol car, where he told another detective to look for the missing pieces of evidence under a bush in Redwood City - which is where Det. Broad found them. He then found the sticker at the gas station.

At that point, Det. Broad felt he had enough evidence to support issuing a search warrant for the home of Jason Chen. That warrant was issued, and the search was conducted.

It remains unclear whether the items taken from Chen's home will be admissible as evidence or whether he, as a Gizmodo editor, will be protected by journalist shield laws. But a few other facts are, indeed, certain.

First, that Katherine Martinson won't soon be invited to a quiet evening of bemused reminiscing with Brian Hogan and Thomas Warner.

And second, regarding Hogan: "Sucks for him. He stole and sold the phone. Shouldn't have stole and sold the phone." ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
PEAK APPLE: iOS 8 is least popular Cupertino mobile OS in all of HUMAN HISTORY
'Nerd release' finally staggers past 50 per cent adoption
Tim Cook: The classic iPod HAD to DIE, and this is WHY
Apple, er, couldn’t get the parts for HDD models
Apple spent just ONE DOLLAR beefing up the latest iPad Air 2
New iPads look a lot like the old one. There's a reason for that
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Lawyers mobilise angry mob against Apple over alleged 2011 Macbook Pro crapness
We suffered 'random bouts of graphical distortion' - fanbois
Caterham Seven 160 review: The Raspberry Pi of motoring
Back to driving's basics with a joyously legal high
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.