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Last week the editor of Gizmodo, Jason Chen was boasting about scooping the biggest tech story of the year – getting hold of what is very likely to be the next generation iPhone.  Yesterday, California police raided Chen’s house, removing his computers and servers. Serves him right.

Why the hard line? Three reasons:

  • Gizmodo felt no sense of regret about exposing the hapless Apple Software Engineer Gray Powell who left the prototype in the now infamous German beer garden in Redwood City. The Gizmodo piece not only revealed his name, but also included his photo and Facebook profile. Given that Gray had made the most serious error of his short professional career, did he really need to be exposed in this way?
  • Gizmodo admitted paying $5,000 for the device. They claim that they didn’t know it was stolen, but is this a credible defence? They knew that if genuine, the device would not have been released with Apple’s blessing. Whether it was mislaid or stolen, Gizmodo choose to pay the person that took the phone, and keep their source anonymous, while at the same time exposing all the details they could find about the victim.
  • The third and most serious reason is that their scoop has actually increased the hype around the new iPhone. Apple could not have paid for this level of PR coverage. Gizmodo admitted that their page views went through the roof, potentially earning them millions in ad revenue. Chen stated last week that his only regret was the fact that they didn’t milk the story longer.

All this means that more people are likely to buy the new iPhone when it arrives. The raid by the police provides some reassurance that Apple is still the secretive, paranoid, protectionist company that we know so well.

So don’t cry for Chen, he has showed no remorse, and perversely this latest twist in the tale is keeping the story alive, generating even more hype around the iPhone release.

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