Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Bit More Oil; Stewart v. Apple v. Gizmodo

Hope everyone is doing okay.
Not too much to report.

Seriously. I keep reading different news sites and looking for something thta I want to talk about, but I can't come up with anything new. The oil spill caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident continues to get bigger. Apparently they now think that oil may be coming out of the well at a rate that's five times higher than originally thought. Obviously, that's bad. Pretty much real bad. The president has pledged to use all available resources in the cleanup effort, and Lousiana Governor Bobby Jindal has declared a state of emergency.
I hope they find a way to contain the spill and clean some of it up, and I hope the impact along the coast isn't as awful as I fear it might become. And I don't think we should be doing a lot more additional drilling anytime soon along American coastlines. That's about all that I have to say on that.

What else? Jon Stewart took some shots at Apple last night on The Daily Show. For those who don't know, a new protoype version of a new iPhone was found in a bar out in California recently (apparently some Apple employee left it behind), and eventually the phone ends up being sold to an editor from Gizmodo, an online magazine which writes about computer stuff and tech trends). The guy who originally found the phone says he tried to return the phone to Apple, but he didn't get very far with their customer service folks.
Anyway, this week the police kicked in this Gizmodo editor's door and searched his place. Apparently under California law you can be charged with theft if you find property, know who the original owner is, and fail to return it.
I'm not sure how I feel about Gizmodo buying this phone and then publishing a bunch of details related to the product online (Gizmodo returned the phone to Apple, but not before a formal request was made and not until after they published pictures and information about it). It's probably not such a great thing.
On the other hand, kicking in someone's door and raiding their house, especially after at least one attempt to return the phone had already been made, seems kind of ridiculous. This new iPhone is a neat gadget, but it's not exactly classified, military grade hardware with national defesne implications.
Nope- it's a neat phone with two cameras on it instead of one.
Jon Stewart admitted last night that by criticizing Apple he was really going out on a limb with his young, progressive, hip audience. People just looove Apple.
But people love The Daily Show, too, and I think Stewart's right on this one. Apple needs to chill out just a bit and quit taking itself so seriously. Also, this whole deal they've got going where we're eventually going to have to buy everything that we own from the iStore? They need to chill out on that, too.
And it's good to see Jon Stewart taking a stand, even when he knows that doing so might put him at odds a bit with his audience. Good for him.

Annnnd... I just don't know what else to say today. Seriously, I'm stumped.

I'm going to let you guys go, and hopefully I'll have something better tomorrow.



Paul Toohey said...

I think the iPhone scandal has gotten way out of control. Hopefully Apple will take Jon Stewart's words to heart and realize that they should focus on being a good guy. That said, the guy who "found" the phone did a pretty horrible job of trying to find the owner. I've been following the situation, and he apparently called a 800 number and got an operator and then gave up. There are a lot of people who felt that his best course of action would have been to turn it over to the bar (who have reported getting lots of phone calls from the iPhone 'owner' (or guy who lost it)).

It's a mess, but I think that stepping in and showing "journalists" that they need to be less cut-throat, especially in situations where it's not really a story that matters, isn't necessarily a bad thing. I can understand protecting a journalists sources when they are doing important things, but this is a doesn't probably broke the law to get your story, now you can pay the penalty.

The League said...

Apple has gone full-blown LuthorCorp the past few months. They also fired an Apple employee who showed Steve Wozniak, one of the founders of Apple, the iPad. Apparently he stepped out of some bizarro holding pen with the thing AFTER he should have been able to, and showed it to the second most famous employee of Apple.

Add in Apple manipulating the SFPD to raid the reporter's house (every bit of info about what Gizmodo and the phone-finder had tried to do was already well documented and online, but far be it from the SFPD to look at Gizmodo)... its just a tremendous waste of resources.

Throw in Jobs' dig at Adobe today, when Adobe made half of Apple's success possible (hello, designers and developers)...

Jobs is going crazy again, as he must do every 5 years unless he bathes in the blood of a thousand virgins.

People always wonder why Apple skeeves me out. This kind of stuff has always been built into their culture. They're just getting more public about it now.

J.S. said...

I agree that what this editor did might be a little out of bounds.... but just a little. This item wasn't stolen, and under Texas law I'm pretty sure there wouldn't have been anything illegal at all about what this guy did. And to be honest, I think that one of the reasons this editor was so eager to write this story was just in order to be one of the very rare reporters who managed to breach Apple's legendary policy of super, hyper strict secrecy policies (which are weird in themselves- I still think that Jobs has the Roswell aliens caged up somewhere and he continues to brutally interrogate them and reverse engineer their technology). Anyway, kicking in someone's door and launching a police raid over a stupid iPhone seems a little lame- especially when it was lost and not stolen.

Paul Toohey said...

The whole thing is pretty dumb, but...

From what I've read the law in California is a little better(?) then the Texas law. If you find property you are held more accountable for attempting to find the owner, which I think is kind of nice. That said, it would be prosecuted like a stolen property case, since it doesn't sound like the finder made much of an attempt to find the owner (yesterday I read that a friend of his told him he would call Apple Care, but it doesn't say that he actually called anyone).

J.S. said...

I guess whether or not the California law is "better" is sort of up for debate. I'm kind of more in favor of a law that put the burden on property owners to keep track of their stuff as opposed to putting the burden on finders to track down property owners. (and frankly, it's surprising that the phone was even found by someone who recognized it as some sort of Apple prototype. What if it had just belonged to a private owner? What's the duty then? If the phone gets turned over to the bar, do THEY have a duty to find the owner? How long do they have to hang onto something before they can use it or keep it? How far does the duty to return stuff extend and how mauch are people expected to have to do in trying to find an owner? And so on. And so forth..) In any case, if this had just been some random citizen's phone that was lost and then recovered by someone else (if it were just a regular old phone), I guarantee that the police wouldn't have been using the manpower and resources to conduct a raid and kick in someone's door. The only reason the police took such aggressive action was because Apple was the complainant. I think that sort of disproportionate use of law enforcement is also problematic. We shouldn't be kicking in doors just because a victim happens to be a corporate darling. If this had been a product belonging to Microsoft or some new type of ciagrette that had been produced by R.J. Reynolds, would people be so defensive of the corporation and their property rights? (and I read that Apple had a service record of this guy calling at some point, but that he hung up before being connected to an appropriate person. But the article also mentioned that there were several different, disputed versions of what happened)