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.