Let’s say you bought a brand new iPad. Completely enamored of your new device, you took it with you anywhere. On a whim, you went to Starbucks, iPad tucked under your arm. You order a hot chocolate (this is my fantasy, and I don’t drink coffee), maybe a brownie, and sit down to tap (one-handed, while you eat) away.
Nature calls. You answer. When you come back to the table, your iPad is gone.
Did you lose it? No. Were you an utter fool to leave it unattended? Of course. But now that your pricey gadget is gone, I assume you’d be pissed off if you found out that a third party:
- Entertained overtures from the guy who snagged it, now looking to pawn it off for extra scratch
- Went ahead and actually paid the guy for the iPad, which we all knew wasn’t his to sell
- Took it apart
- Posted all the details I could find about it.
The third-party in my hypothetical scenario is clearly scum. He bought your iPad from someone who freely admitted it wasn’t his to sell.
Gizmodo’s post today — “This is Apple’s Next iPhone” — describes events that mirror my bogus scenario. Gizmodo’s the third-party in this version, and is impressively a much bigger asshole in the real story than the fictional third party in mine.
Gizmodo got ahold of what sure seems to be Apple’s next iPhone. Gizmodo writes:
It was found lost in a bar in Redwood City, camouflaged to look like an iPhone 3GS. We got it. We disassembled it. It’s the real thing, and here are all the details.
That’s unethical. It’s lousy journalism. And if I hadn’t dropped Gizmodo from my RSS reader many moons ago, I’d sure as heck drop it now.
I want to be clear, here: If an anonymous source dropped off, say, iPad 2.0 at my house tonight, leaving it on my doorstep, I’d probably take it out of the box, play with it, snapsome photos, the whole deal. But I don’t think that makes me a hypocrite.
The anonymous source that dropped the fictional iPad 2.0 on my front porch could easily have been the same folks who give Uncle Walt and Uncle David the latest Apple goodies a week before anyone else. Gizmodo, on the other hand, knows full well that its source wasn’t meant to have this iPhone in its possession. Gizmodo hasn’t said so publicly yet, but the site paid to get its metaphorical hands on the new iPhone.
Acquiring knowingly-stolen goods isn’t just crappy journalistic ethics, it’s crappy human behavior.