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The iPhone 4G

The iPhone 4G

The iPhone 4G, the whole story….

Well folk’s, it’s that time again when yet another device from Apple is causing a huge storm on the Internet. The saga behind the upcoming iPhone 4G has been treacherous for some, profitable for others, and simply entertaining for the rest of us. So I thought it was about time to cover the happenings so far.

Apple iPhone 4G

Apple iPhone 4G

Thanks to North Carolina State University 2006 graduate, talented amateur photographer, and Apple Software Engineer, Gray Powell, the night of March 18th gave birth to the world’s first iPhone 4G leak.

As any self respecting person would do on their 27th birthday, Powell was celebrating with beer at a German bar called Gourmet Haus Staudt, in Redwood City, California.

Gray Powell

Gray Powell

Updating his Facebook status on the prototype disguised as an iPhone 3GS, Powell wrote, “I underestimated how good German beer is.” Unbeknown to Powell, this would be his last Facebook status on the precious device. He then left it on a bar stool before leaving the bar.

An anonymous stranger picked up the iPhone and asked if it belonged to anyone at the bar. After no one claimed the phone, he turned it on, found Gray Powel via his Facebook profile and waited at the bar for him to return, but Powell never came back.

The next morning Mr. Anon turned the device back on only to find it had been remotely wiped. It was at this point he realized the phone wasn’t the same as the other iPhones and after some tinkering, he managed to remove the case disguise to uncover the shiny new back plate of the iPhone 4G.

Aware he had made a significant discovery but unable to access any info from the device, Mr. Anon contacted Apple but was ignored. He then turned to gadget blogs to try and sell the story.

It took some time for pictures of the device to start circulating the Internet, and details are a little cloudy as to what happen next, nevertheless I think it’s safe to assume to Mr. Anon used his brain.

Leaked iPhone Pictures

Leaked iPhone Pictures

First up, on April 17th pictures showed up on Engadget.com. The site couldn’t confirm if the device was real, but motioned that they could “get some more face-time with the handset.” Engadget never said how much or even if they paid for the images, however what happened next would suggest that Mr. Anon was the host of a bidding war.

On April 18th, rival tech site Gizmodo revealed that they had the prototype iPhone 4G in-hand and posted an in-depth article including pics, specs, and new features.

iPhone 4G New Features and Specifications

  • Front-facing video chat camera
  • Improved regular back-camera (the lens is noticeably larger than the iPhone 3GS)
  • Camera flash
  • Micro-SIM
  • Running iPhone OS 4.0
  • Dimensions: 4.50 x 2.31 x 0.37 inches
  • Weight: 140 grams
iPhone 4G - 3G Comparison

iPhone 4G - 3G Comparison

Later on it was disclosed that Gawker, Gizmodo’s parent site, paid $5000 for the prototype:

Gizmodo got it for $5,000 in cash. At the time, we didn’t know if it was the real thing or not. It didn’t even get past the Apple logo screen. Once we saw it inside and out, however, there was no doubt about it. It was the real thing, so we started to work on documenting it before returning it to Apple. We had the phone, but we didn’t know the owner. Later, we learnt about this story, but we didn’t know for sure it was Powell’s phone until today, when we contacted him via his phone.

Then came the phone call to Powell, documented below:

Gray Powell: Hello?
John Herrman [Gizmodo]: Is this Gray?
Gray: Yeah.
John: Hi, this is John Herrman from Gizmodo.com.
Gray: Hey!
John: You work at Apple, right?
Gray: Um, I mean I can’t really talk too much right now.
John: I understand. We have a device, and we think that maybe you misplaced it at a bar, and we would like to give it back.
Gray: Yeah, I forwarded your email [asking him if it was his iPhone], someone should be contacting you.
John: OK.
Gray: Can I send this phone number along?
John: [Contact information]

April 19th, Apple-connected John Gruber announced that Apple had indeed lost a prototype iPhone and they want it back:

So I called around, and I now believe this is an actual unit from Apple — a unit Apple is very interested in getting back.

Then finally, confirming the authenticity of the device, Gizmodo received a letter from Apple Editorial Director, Brian Lam, stating that the purported iPhone 4G in Gizmodo’s possession is Apple’s property and requested that Gizmodo return the device.

Apple Letter To Gizmodo

Apple Letter To Gizmodo

Whether or not the loss of the new prototype was a mistake or planted PR, the whole affair certainly increased the size of some people’s wallets. An analysis of Gizmodo’s web ads, shows just how profitable the story has been. Website Labnol.org wrote:

Gizmodo gets around 5 million pageviews per day but the day they published pictures of the iPhone 4G, their web traffic nearly quadrupled to 20 million. The excitement continued unabated and traffic soared to 23 million the next day.

This roughly means that Gizmodo got nearly 30-32 million extra pageviews in just two days due to their iPhone story. If Google Ads and other non-premium ad networks are paying Gizmodo $5 CPM (a conservative estimate), the scoop alone may have made the gadget site richer by at least $150,000 (or even more).

But the story doesn’t end there. On May 12th, across the other side of the world in Vietnam, another iPhone prototype surfaced.

Not too many details emerged with the new prototype leak. Except the tear down by site Taoviet revealed what looks to be an A4 Processor.

Apple iPhone Teardown

Apple iPhone Teardown

Apple iPhone Teardown

Apple iPhone Teardown

Check out another vid from the Vietnamese site below…

It iPhone is expected to be release in July this year. And I’m wondering how much more hype can be generated before that date?



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