Steve Jobs discusses the lost iPhone 4G, says Gizmodo tried to extort Apple

Wed, Jun 2, 2010


Everything was fair game during yesterday’s All Things D interview with Steve Jobs last night, and as expected, it was only a matter of time before the topic of the lost/stolen iPhone 4G was broached.

Delving into murky waters, Walt Mossberg recounted the entire saga which culminated in Gizmodo scoring one of the greatest tech scoops of all-time and California police subsequently obtaining a warrant to seize computer equipment from the home of Gizmodo’s Jason Chen.

When asked about the ordeal, Jobs responded.

To make a wireless product work well, you have to test it. And there’s no way to test it in a lab completely, so you have to carry them and test them out. And one of our employees was carrying one and there’s a debate as to whether it was left in a bar or stolen out of his bag, but I don’t know the answer to that. And the person that ended up with the phone decided they would try to sell it to somebody, so they called Engadget and they called Gizmodo. It turned out that the person that got the phone tried to activate it by plugging it into his roomate’s computer and she’s the one who called the police, and that’s why they got the search warrant.

And next, Jobs left no doubt about how he categorizes Gizmodo’s actions.

But first, a quick backdrop:

In the hours following Gizmodo’s iPhone 4G expose, Steve Jobs called Gizmodo and asked for the device back. Gizmodo editor Brian Lam subsequently emailed Jobs and said that Gizmodo wouldn’t give the device back to Apple unless it received a formal letter requesting as much from someone high up at Apple.


Because Gizmodo wanted to do a story on how they handed back the device to Apple and they needed something to put up on their site to generate pageviews.

As Jobs recounted the episode to Mossberg and Kara Swisher, there was no doubt he viewed Gizmodo’s actions as extortion.

So this is a story that’s amazing. It’s got theft, it’s got buying stolen property, it’s got extortion, I’m sure there’s sex in there somewhere. So someone should make a movie out of this. This whole thing is very colorful..

Next, Jobs explains why he decided, after much deliberation, not to let the whole fiasco slide.

When this whole thing with Gizmodo happened, I got a lot of advice from people that said “You’ve got to just let it slide. You shouldn’t go after a journalist because they bought stolen property and they tried to extort you.

And I thought deeply about this, and I ended up concluding that the worst thing that could possibly happen as we get big and we get a little bit more influence in the world is if we change our core values, and start ‘letting it slide.'” I can’t do that. I’d rather quit. We have the same values now as we had then. We’re maybe a little bit more experienced, certainly more beat up, but the core values are the same.


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24 Comments For This Post

  1. srikar Says:

    Not letting slide is a great move by jobs ,he kept his dignity and earned my respect !

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Does he ever define the core values?

  3. Jim Says:

    Yeah, I read the email B. Lam sent. Until then, I didn’t have much problem with what Gizmodo had done, but the tone of that message was definitely seemed whiny & petty in an abusive “You made me do this to you, Apple, I didn’t want to hit to have to hit you!” sort of way that did stink a little of extortion.

    I still like Gizmodo, and think that they do mostly good work, but not on this part of the lost iphone saga.

  4. Scott B Says:

    Gizmodo is cheap tabloid garbage, After this ordeal myself and allot of other, “Well more then allot” have decided to boycott all Gawker News Services, And what a joke to call it News services, it;s just plain Bulling Bottom Feeding Garbage.

    The only problem is that the followers of this type of Tabloid garbage keep them in business.

    Its just as bad as Reality TV Shows, For God sake people why watch someone else’s life on TV and start to live your own, and its those types of people that believe everything they read on the internet and take it as truth just as the followers of certain TV News shows that are so far fetched and off the wall that people believe this nonsense as truth without Double and Triple checking it, A certain percentage of the population love Hate and untruth and strive to go after and in-brace this nonsense.

    And While the More Educated and Level headed Reader or Watcher takes it for what it is understanding that there are more idiots out there in the world then there are level headed reasonable people.

    Seeing the Truth for what it is and doing something about it is not a Bad thing, And Job’s did the correct thing, Now if more people could see the truth for what it is and not believe a certain bottom feeding organization trying to make news rather then reporting the real story.

    Gizmodo is Bottom feeding dishonest story telling and gives real news reporting a bad reputation.

  5. Kevin Says:

    For the love of God. Allot isn’t a word. It’s spelled:

    a lot

    two words.

  6. monster.21faces Says:

    Why is jobs trying so hard to make apple seem like it’s some kind of small, meek, and totally innocent corporation? Integrity? Whatever. This is stupid.

  7. Jay Says:

    Despite what anyone thinks of Steve Jobs (imho he mostly seems to be a dick), or even Gizmodo (which I used to love), if you read the email Brian wrote to Steve it was quite obvious that the guy was trying to extort Apple.

  8. Denis Says:

    That was well said by Jobs, and I am glad he did not let it slide, there is a lot wrong with this situation.

  9. Rory Says:


    Actually “allot” is a word… It has a different meaning to “a lot” but it’s still a word.

  10. Andrew Says:

    Good going, Steve Jobs. Yet another example of how business expertise and experience pays off. Look at the man now.

  11. tachatte Says:


    Dictionary FAIL 😉

  12. tintin Says:

    I love Ipod, I hate Iphone, Ipad and Steve Jobs. And I want to spit into Jobs’s face. Why?
    They think they are the top so they can do whatever they want when their web browser doesn’t support a normal, essential types of files.
    I can’t view images in my mail, I can’t open certain files like pps.
    Their iphone,ipad suck ass.
    I don’t know why people are so stupid to support Apple when they treat the consumers as fools.
    They kept saying about the HTML5 in future and refused to support flash while we know most of websites NOW don’t have HTML5.
    Well, we shall buy their product in the future bc their product are for future, not what we need at current time.
    For this reason, I want to say to JOBS: F U A H. To hell with Apple and their products

  13. lollerskates Says:

    Say what you want about Gizmodo but at least the users who comment on there are alot better than this site.

  14. Crikey Says:

    YEAH, bro. We’re so cool and laid back, but we can’t, you know, like let criminals sliiiide, bro. We can wait outside their house for hours until they leave, so we can BASH in the front door on a warrant that was not allowed for a night search. And we can ask the court to gag their public statements, while we sell our story, but hey man, we don’t like letting people sliiiiiide.

    And they were EXTORTED? Like every freaking reporter who has ever tried to bargain for more info from anybody. It must’ve been a freaking terrifying letter of vicious coercion if no one will post a link to it. But OMG, it was horrible! Take my word for it.

    In the meantime, amuse yourself with the other side of the story:

  15. Jackie Says:

    Steve Jobs needs to stopping such a damn cry baby

  16. lordbrandor Says:

    Apple is a monster. They are extremely proprietary and extremely rich and I have no sympathy for little Stevey whatsoever. What a punk. If you start making more of your stuff open source or cutting prices on your equipment..then I’ll consider your point of view..OSX is not that awesome and those condescending commercials irritate the crap outta me. Give something back once in a while you cry-baby megalomaniac. And quit charging so much for yer stuff! It’s not worth it.

    Gizmodo asking for a decent story to generate hits on their site is not an unreasonable request. What is unreasonable is having police bust up in your pad and taking all your computer equipment. If I reported my phone stolen to the police and told them I thought I knew who had it..who of you thinks they would do something about it..? No. They would not give the slightest of a crap about my stolen iPhone. They would tell me they’d do what they can and laugh at me with their buddies on my way out the door, if they don’t curse me out or throw me in jail for wasting their time.
    Apple is not a small company. They are not a victim of anyone or anything but their own greed and feelings of self-importance. The fact that they can utilize local law enforcement in such a fashion should be scary.

  17. Jeff Says:

    So first Jobs grants that whether the phone was stolen or lost is undecided, but next proceeds to argue as if it was, in fact, stolen.

    They haven’t even filed charges for theft. And why would his phone be in this guy’s “bag”? Guys keep their phones mostly in their pockets. Is the male apple employee in question a girl?

    And Jobs is also in trouble on the “extortion” angle. For example, it would be proper for an employee of Gizmodo to want a record of the demand from Apple for accounting and tax purposes, and to simply cover the back of the person giving up the $5k phone. Also, the letter has no value whatsoever. Extortion that would cost you nothing to satisfy Mr. Jobs? That might be a leap. Censoring Bully.

  18. >. Says:

    lol he has values? ROFL

  19. vafer Says:

    Core values? Didn’t Jobs rip off Woz in the early days? Was that written in Insanely_Great? Something about developing something for Atari and Jobs fudged the numbers and didn’t tell Woz how much it was really sold for.

  20. Mark Says:

    @Jeff. Gizmodo needs the letter for accounting and tax purposes? Are you kidding me? Here is some advise, hire someone to do YOUR taxes because your accounting understanding boggles the mind.

  21. Mark Says:

    Why do people who have such a hate on for apple even come to read articles on a obviously apple related site and comment? I guess haters gotta hate.

  22. Mike Says:

    I think the core values are, make all that anger me pay. The comment there is debate as to weather it was left or stolen out of his bag, is making quite a statement! At the start I seem to recall Apple as making the statement that there was no phone missing. Now it might have been stolen? Well thats his story until it changes again. Jobs is like my 5 yr old. He will do as he wants, and figure out a story that sounds good later.Not so good Steve. Steve just tell the world they pissed me off, I am powerful, I had others work as my pit bulls. I have become the new bully on the block.

  23. Susankinds Says:

    Bonjour, Nice to tie you, I am Susan

  24. Sam Says:


    Yeah, an email that says give us a written request to return it and we will is extortion. Where in that email did they demand money or services in exchange for the return of the phone? I must have missed that part.

    Steve Jobs is such a baby. He makes it out like they are the little guy or underdog still. Not so much when your company is being investigated by the FTC/Justice Department for being anti-competitive and monopolistic. I guess their 1984 ad was more of a look into their future than it was a jab at their competitors.

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