Don't be surprised if the Case of the Missing 4G iPhone doesn't become a Game App in the very near future. It has all the components of an interactive mystery game including a large tech company kingpin, the press, a police raid, a 'deep throat' character and a hapless software engineer who doesn't have a shot in hell of ever becoming Apple's employee of the month any time soon.
Apple's iCops & Robbers? There's an app for that?
Oddly enough there is an iPhone Game App titled Cops & Robbers. I don't know how popular it is since it was originally priced at $2.99 - and is now available for free.
Object of the Game
Players would be required to unravel the mystery as to what to do when one of your employees takes your company's top-secret prototype, gets careless or inebriated (or both)-- and then leaves the device behind in a beer garden, only to have it end up in the hands of an alleged thief and online gadget blog?
Do you sue the company? Call the cops? Raid the perpetrators' homes. In the immortal words of Jon Stewart, "Apple, you guys were the rebels, now you're becoming "the man" going 'Minority Report' all over a missing iPhone?
Low Risk Characters
With the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction real-life story having been playing out in the press over the course of the last couple of weeks, players would assume the identity of one of these 4 characters.
iCops & Robbers low risk characters
While some faces are familiar, others may not be (Top Left- Steve Jobs; Top Right - Gray Powell, hapless employee; Bottom Left - Jason Chen, Editor of Gizmodo; Bottom Right - Stephen Wagstaffe, District Attorney). Assuming the identity of one of these characters is not high risk. Of course with low risk, comes low return -some 15-16 minutes of fame and notoriety is all you stand to gain here.
High Risk Characters
And then there's the buyer and seller. In this case, we are assuming that the buyer was Nick Denton, founder of Gawker Media and Gizmodo's parent company, where the story first broke. In an AP wire, he admitted that his company paid $5000 for the device to the seller.
iCops & Robbers high risk characters
As far as the identity of the "Source/ Robber/ Seller" (aka "Deepthroat 4G") he or she is presently unknown and protected by law. His or her future fate will be announced once it's determined whether he or she is guilty or innocent. It must be noted that before selling the prototype to Gizmodo, someone who claimed to have had the phone contacted multiple media outlets, including Wired and Engadget. Editors at both news organizations confirmed that they were contacted not to verify if the phone was legit but whether or not either pub had interest in buying the device.
To win at this version of Apple's Cops & Robbers, you will need to know the laws of the land that apply to your character.
Laws on the Books:
Law #1- Shield Laws -According to Gaby Darbyshire, COO of [Gizmodo publisher] Gawker Media LLC, the search warrant to remove these computers was invalid under section 1524(g) of the California Penal Code. A publisher, editor, reporter or other person connected with or employed upon a newspaper, magazine or other periodical publication, or by a press association or wire service, or any person who has been so connected or employed, cannot be adjudged in contempt by a judicial, legislative, administrative body or any other body having the power to issue subpoenas, for refusing to disclose, in any proceeding as defined in section 901, the source of any information procured while so connected."
This law applies to editor of Gizmodo and the founder of Gawker Media. If during the course of the game it appears that this law applies, both Chen and Denton would be protected. If protection is upheld, than the District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe runs the risk of "illegal search and seizure," and potentially getting his hands slapped from state and possibly federal officials.
Law #2- Theft - under a 1872 California law, any person who finds lost property and knows who the owner is likely to be–but “appropriates such property for his or her own use”–is guilty of theft. There are no exceptions for journalists. in addition, a second state law says that any person who knowingly receives property that has been obtained illegally can be imprisoned for up to one year.
This law would apply to the unknown "Deepthroat 4G," so he runs the risk of prison sentence.
Law # 3- Under California's criminal code for receiving stolen goods, it has to prove that Gizmodo had knowledge it was stolen. The law states:
"For property to qualify as "stolen", the person who took the property must have intended permanently to deprive the owner of that property. Under Penal Code 496, this intent will pass onto you if you knowingly and subsequently receive that property.
"This means that even if you weren't aware at the time that you received the property that it was stolen (but later learned or suspected that fact), you must immediately contact the owner of the property or the police to avoid prosecution."
Nick Denton most likely would be the one to take the hit on this one, unless Jason Chen was the one that made the actual pay-off to "Deepthroat 4G." In which case, one of them could face a jail sentence of up to one year as well.
Now -- the first player to solve the mystery and determines how this game will play out in real-life is the winner of Apple's iCops & Robbers and should in my estimation win a free iPhone 4G from Mr. Jobs himself. After all, the hapless employee who lost the damn thing has already been offered a free trip to Germany by Lufthansa airlines.
However if you don't solve this case to the satisfaction of Mr. Jobs and he releases this iPhone game app instead of the iPhone 4G this year, we all have Gizmodo to thank. Due to Gizmodo's leak, all the surprises are hanging out there for the entire world to see. As ballistic as Steve Jobs is known to be about secrecy, it might be his way to thumb his nose at Gawker/Gizmodo and the rest of in the process. MrHogg released this YouTube video on April 19 and having attracting over 200,000 views, this just might be what the real endgame will look like...
UPDATE: April 29, 5:00PM ET- "Deep-throat 4G" was exposed just an hour after the posting of this blog, so it looks like the real-life Apple iCops & Robbers is in full swing.
"Deep-throat 4G" (aka Brian J. Hogan) who found and sold an Apple iPhone prototype says he regrets not doing more to return the device to its owner, according to a statement provided by his attorney Thursday in response to queries from Wired.com.
The 21-year-old resident of Redwood City, California, says although he was paid by tech site Gizmodo, he believed the payment was for allowing the site exclusive access to review the phone. Gizmodo emphasized to him “that there was nothing wrong in sharing the phone with the tech press,” according to his attorney Jeffrey Bornstein.
In this case, we all lose, as Jobs would have made appholes out of all of those waiting with baited breath for the next-generation iPhone.