Apple Called: They Want Their Missing iPhone 4G Back

Gizmodo published video of the iPhone 4G and photos of the device being dismantled; by all accounts, the coverage delivered monster traffic for the blog. However, Apple has taken issue with Gizmodo and now wants the device back. In a letter to Gizmodo, Bruce Sewell, senior vice president & general counsel at Apple, made a formal request for the return of the unreleased iPhone 4G.

The whole iPhone 4G media storm started over the weekend when tech blog and Gizmodo rival Engadget published photos of the mysterious smartphone, leading to speculation that the device was either an elaborate fake or a plant by Apple to throw media hounds off the real scent.

But lo and behold, it was the real thing; on Monday, following Engadget's coverage of the prototype iPhone 4G, Gizmodo published its own reports and revealed that it was in possession of the same phone that was reportedly lost in a bar in Silicon Valley last month. According to Gizmodo's account, an unnamed individual discovered the phone in the bar and made attempts to return it to its owner and Apple.

However, Gizmodo says the individual got no response from Apple. As a result, the individual began shopping the device to media outlets and tech blogs. Nearly a month after the phone went missing, Gizmodo published detailed reports, photos and a video of the device, which confirm the smartphone is in fact an Apple product. The tech blog event took apart the smartphone to thoroughly examine its legitimacy.

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Gizmodo's owner, Gawker Media CEO Nick Denton, confirmed that he paid $5,000 to the unnamed individual for the phone. "[Y]es, we'll do anything for a story," Denton wrote on his Twitter page. "Our only obligation is to our readers."

Gizmodo also followed up with a report that revealed the details of how it obtained the now-legendary iPhone 4G prototype; the blog even went as far as publishing the identity of the Apple engineer " Gray Powell " who lost the device.

Gizmodo has not said if it has returned the phone to Apple yet, and the blog has not responded to requests for comment. Apple has not commented publicly on the matter, either. However, the company's second quarter earnings call is scheduled for this afternoon. While Apple officials aren't expected to comment directly about the iPhone 4G episode, it should make for an interesting conference call.