Gray Powell, a graduate from North Carolina State University and an Apple Software Engineer was out celebrating his birthday at an establishment called The Gourmet Haus Staudt in Redwood City, California. Powell’s responsibilities are to work on the iPhone Baseband Software, which allows the iPhone to make phone calls. On March 18, 2010 the night of his 27th birthday he was at the Redwood City bar celebrating. He was celebrating and even wrote a status message from the iPhone he had on him, “I underestimated how good German beer is.” The phone that he was using was the new iPhone disguised as an iPhone 3G S. And he left that iPhone on a bar stool. Eventually that iPhone found its way into tech blog Gizmodo’s hands at the cost of $5,000 from someone that found it.
The person that sold the lost iPhone to Gizmodo tried playing with the phone he found, but it kept crashing. When he pulled up the Facebook application, Powell’s profile was loaded, confirming that the device belonged to him. Apple bricked the phone remotely using MobileMe so the anonymous person actually open the fake 3G S and found another iPhone within the exterior. Gizmodo reached out to Powell to let him know that they have it and will be giving it back to him. Gizmodo broke the news about the new iPhone and they saw a huge spike in web traffic because of that article. At least 10 million additional views were generated by them breaking the news. [Gizmodo]
Gizmodo even received a legal letter from Apple asking for the device back. “Dear Mr. Lam, It has come to our attention that GIZMODO is currently in possession of a device that belongs to Apple. This letter constitutes a formal request that you return the device to Apple. Please let me know where to pick up the unit.” Signed by Bruce Sewell, SVP and General Counsel of Apple Inc.
Looks like there will be no surprises when the new iPhone is announced. It appears that Powell deleted any traces of finding him on the Internet now. His Facebook account is gone, Flickr account is gone, his Twitter account is gone, and so is his LinkedIn profile. But there are Facebook Pages being created that support Powell for losing the device. The I’m With Powell Facebook page says that 159 people like it and the Save Gray Powell page currently says 11 people like it [Facebook search on Gray Powell].