Friday, April 30, 2010

This Hogan's No Hero

This is what Brian J. Hogan should have done -- after turning the phone in at the bar.

Since outed Brian J. Hogan, a Redwood City, California, resident, as the goombah who found a prototype iPohne at a bar and then sold it to technology blog Gizmodo, Mr. Hogan has come out all contrite, as he should be.

Still unsure is whether he'll be prosecuted, and still the confusion amongst lots of commenters that journalist shield laws protect sources from prosecution if in the course of feeding information to journalists they commit a crime.

That he made only token efforts to find the phone's rightful owner, especially after he discovered it might be an iPhone prototype, is damning. Wired tells us that after another person found the phone at the bar, Hogan asked a few other people there if the phone were theirs, but never told a bar employee that he'd found the phone.

That would have been the first thing I'd done -- because I figure that if I've lost something, the thing I'd do to recover it would be to retrace my steps and go back to the places I'd visited that night to see if some kind Samaritan had turned it in.

Instead, this is what Wired said he did:
A friend of Hogan's then offered to call Apple Care on Hogan's behalf, according to Hogan's lawyer. That apparently was the extent of Hogan's efforts to return the phone.

After the friend's purported efforts to return the phone failed, several journalists were offered a look at the device. received an e-mail March 28 -- not from Hogan -- offering access to the iPhone, but did not follow up on the exchange after the tipster made a thinly veiled request for money. Gizmodo then paid $5,000 in cash for it.

The owners of the bar told reporters that Hogan didn't notify anyone who worked at the bar about the phone. They also said Powell returned several times after losing the phone to see if anyone had found it and turned it in. Powell and Apple's outside counsel contacted the San Mateo County District Attorney's office last week to report the phone stolen, according to reports.

"He regrets his mistake in not doing more to return the phone," says Bornstein's statement. "Even though he did obtain some compensation from Gizmodo, Brian thought that it was so that they could review the phone."
What an absolute boogerbutt, if I can use such a strong term here.

I've used AppleCare -- and it is about the worst way you could ever think to contact a company. I had a legitimate problem with my iPod Touch and their responses were either canned replies -- the same as they gave out years ago in forums they directed me to -- or basically said, well, what you['re experiencing isn't our problem. So to think you can call up AppleCare and have them get all concerned about an iPhone you found is patently ridiculous. That he didn't bother calling the bar to tell them of the discovered phone, and that he and others of his association instead started farming it out to technology blogs, seeking compensation, tells me that the only reason he's sorry now is that he got caught.

If he'd been honest and more forthright by telling bar employees what he'd found and, I don't know, leaving the phone there so the owner could find it in retracing his steps, Ms. Brian J. Hogan wouldn't be in this kind of trouble. But because greed jumped right on his little head, he's in this pickle. And don't tell me he was right to do what he did because some bar employee would have done the same thing, well, hooey to that. He could have acted honestly and ethically and not be now in this conundrum. He might be $5,000 richer, but he'll have to carry that on his conscience, if he's got one not activated by being outed by a technology company where a friend tried to flog the purloined phone for money and failed. Sure, a bar employee could very well have done the same thing. But then it would be that bar employee's problem, not Brian J. Hogan's.

You're that sorry, Mr. Hogan, give the money to a charity. Give it to Apple. Give it to the poor sap who lost the phone and is probably only now getting his heartbeat back to normal. Don't give it to Gizmodo; they don't deserve it, as they knowingly bought stolen goods. Yes, the phone was stolen. A token effort to find the phone's owner and a ludicrous belief that the money you got from Gizmodo for a look at the phone rather than the phone itself tells me you're grabbing at straws to justify what you did. Too little, too late.

I don't think Apple is overreacting in this situation, because first thing first, even if they do prosecute Mr. Hogan and Gizmodo, it's not going to hurt their bottom line. There's enough division among Apple fanboys here to say that not all of Apple's horde of customers is going to be turned off by this action. They're already dealing with a vertically integrated company that's buying up the maker of its chips and is locking out developers if they dare to use Flash, so to go after a Redwood City weenie who sells other people's belongings -- or at least right to an exclusive peek at someone else's belongings, something he still didn't have the right to sell, even though the phone was in his possession -- is not going to do anything by the way of collateral damage.

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