Gizmodo to Apple’s Steve Jobs: ‘Right now, we have nothing to lose’

This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

The affidavit in the missing iPhone case contains an e-mail exchange that could spell trouble for the Gizmodo editor who resisted when Apple CEO Steve Jobs requested he return the top-secret prototype.

Deputy District Attorney Chris Feasel told reporters on Friday that police are still investigating and that media organizations that commit crimes can be prosecuted.

According to the affidavit prepared by Det. Matthew Broad of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, Jobs contacted Gizmodo Editor Brian Lam on April 19, the same day the technology blog posted an article about and images of the 4G iPhone. In an e-mail to Jobs, Lam declined to return the phone unless Jobs would confirm it was “real.”

Lam made the case that Gizmodo needed that confirmation as a scrappy publication not typically granted the same kind of access to Apple as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. He also bluntly stated: “Right now, we have nothing to lose.”


Something like that — from you or apple legal — is a big story, that would make up for giving the phone back right away. If the phone disappears without a story to explain why it went away, and the proof it went to apple, it hurts our business. And our reputation. People will say this is a coordinated leak, etc. I get that it would hurt sales to say this is the next iphone. I have no interest in hurting sales. That does nothing to help Gizmodo or me. Maybe Apple can say it’s a lost phone, but not one that you’ve confirmed for production — that it is merely a test unit of sorts. Otherwise, it just falls to apple legal, which serves the same purpose of confirmation. I don’t want that, either. Gizmodo lives and dies like many small companies do. We don’t have access, or when we do, we get it taken away. When we get a chance to break a story, we have to go with it, or we perish. I know you like walt [Mossberg, of the Wall Street Journal] and [the New York Times’ David] pogue, and like working with them, 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.

Lam went on to complain that Apple public relations had been “cold” to Gizmodo.

“It affected my ability to do my job right at iPad launch. So we had to go outside and find our stories like this one, very aggressively.”

Gizmodo has said it bought the iPhone for $5,000 in cash. It turns out that the roommate of Brian Hogan, the young man who found the iPhone in a Redwood City restaurant, has said that Hogan showed her a camera box containing $5,000 in $100 bills. He also said he would receive a cash bonus from in July when Apple makes a product announcement regarding the new iPhone.

— Jessica Guynn and David Sarno