Apple and Steve Jobs want their lost or stolen iPhone prototype back

“On March 18, a young Apple engineer had a few too many drinks at a beer garden in Redwood City, Calif., and left his cellphone behind on a bar stool,” Philip Elmer-DeWitt recounts for Fortune.

“A customer picked it up… Realizing he’s got something of value, our unnamed beer garden patron takes a few photographs and starts shopping them around,” Elmer-DeWitt explains. “He shows the pictures to Engadget and offers to let them play with it for an unnamed price. On April 17, nearly a month after the phone was lost, Engadget runs the photos… Meanwhile, Engadget’s rival Gizmodo has bought the thing outright.”

Gizmodo “takes more photos. It makes some videos. It publishes the specs. It cracks the thing open and photographs its innards. It visits the beer garden. It calls the original owner, records the interview and publishes his name and Facebook photo,” Elmer-DeWitt reports. “Gizmodo’s servers slow to a crawl under the weight of all the Web traffic. According to paidContent, just one of its posts generated more than 3.7 million page views.”

Elmer-Dewitt reports, “And then someone from Apple calls Gizmodo — according to one rumor, it was Steve Jobs himself. Apple wants its phone back. From the company’s point of view, as Daring Fireball’s John Gruber keeps reminding readers, lost property not promptly returned to its owner could be considered stolen. And paying for stolen property, in California and elsewhere, is a crime.”

Full article, with Appel’s written request to Gizmodo and Gizmodo’s response, here.

MacDailyNews Take: As P.E.D. writes, “The only important question that remains is how closely this prototype resembles the final product.”