Apple Employee Who “Lost” iPhone 4G Outed, Apple Demands Phone’s Return

The iPhone 4G (or HD if you prefer) saga appears to be winding down. The story started over the weekend when Engadget gained access to pictures of what appears to be a prototype for the next generation iPhone. Gizmodo one-upped Engadget by actually gaining access to the actual phone.

To get the iPhone, Gawker Media — parent of Gizmodo — paid $5,000 to the person that found the iPhone at a bar. While Gizmodo kept the name of this person secret, it had no trouble outing the actual Apple employee who lost the phone. The employee is a 2006 graduate of NC State University and works at Apple as a BaseBand Software Engineer according to his Linkedin profile (which has since been taken down).

Now that the cat is out of the bag, Apple wants its iPhone back. Gizmodo’s Brian Lam received a letter this morning from Bruce Sewell, an Apple Senior Vice President and General Counsel. The letter confirms that the iPhone in question is in fact from Apple (and not a counterfeit) and goes on to state, “This letter constitutes a formal request that you return the device to Apple. Please let me know where to pick up the unit.”

Lam wrote back in a joking fashion, and even asked Apple go easy on the person that lost the phone:

Happy to have you pick this thing up. Was burning a hole in our pockets. Just so you know, we didn’t know this was stolen when we bought it. Now that we definitely know it’s not some knockoff, and it really is Apple’s, I’m happy to see it returned to its rightful owner.

P.S. I hope you take it easy on the kid who lost it. I don’t think he loves anything more than Apple.

Whether Apple will take Lam’s advice and go easy on the guy remains to be seen. However, given that Steve Jobs once threw a tantrum over a newspaper exec tweeting from a prototype iPad before its release, it’s doubtful that Steve will show mercy.

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