TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Kai Ryssdal: Losing your cell phone isn’t really that big a deal. We’ve all done it, some of us more than once. Left it at work, or the gym, maybe at a restaurant. Last month in Silicon Valley a very important cell phone was left behind at a bar — what is widely believed to be a prototype of the new iPhone that Apple’s officially going to release in a couple of months. The phone wound up in the hands of Jason Chen, the editor of the technology website Gizmodo.com. Jason, it’s good to have you with us.
Jason Chen: Good to be here.
Ryssdal: Suffice it to say this is not the way that Apple and its product launches are usually covered.
CHEN: No, they definitely do not want people seeing it until Steve Jobs gets on stage and tells them this is the new iPhone.
Ryssdal: So how did this one happen? I mean, how did this come to pass?
CHEN: Well, a software engineer left it in a bar after I think he had a little too much to drink on his birthday. Someone else found it, and they offered it to us, which we paid for. And then we took it back to our offices and took it apart and examined it to make sure it was the real thing. And from what we saw, it definitely was.
Ryssdal: How do you know? I mean what convinced you that this was an actual Apple prototype?
CHEN: Inside the phone, in the components, it actually says Apple on various pieces. And if that wasn’t enough, which it should be, Apple actually wanted it back, and claimed that it was their property. That definitely says this is a legit piece of hardware.
Ryssdal: Yeah, they actually sent you a letter yesterday that said we understand you have something of ours, we want it, right?
CHEN: Right, exactly. And then shortly after that we returned the phone to them.
Ryssdal: Let me ask you this, Jason. Obviously this worked out well for you. You spent $5,000 to buy this thing from the guy who found it in the bar where the kid lost it. You got lord knows how many hits on your website from Apple aficionados and other journalists and just plain curious people, so it has kind of worked out well for you this technology scoop that you got.
CHEN: In terms of scoops this is one of the largest ones you can get. Because of how secretive Apple is, and how closely they guard their products before launch. Before this you used to only get images or a blurry video of people in factories maybe sneaking a little peek, but to get this kind of detail, I haven’t seen before. And it would probably be fair to say it’s hard to see this happening in the future, especially with Apple tightening their security and trying not to let this happen again.
Ryssdal: They have actually a history of giving people their devices, and letting them use them, isn’t that, right? Just to test them out in the real world.
CHEN: That’s true, and that’s why this was leaked in the first place. They have their engineers that go out and test it in real-world conditions to see how reception is on the train, or in a bar, for example. So they need to have actual real-world data to tune their products. So it’s unfortunate that he left it when he was out on a testing run, but I don’t know if going to bars was part of his testing criteria.
Ryssdal: Yeah, Steve Jobs probably disapproves of that one. What did you learn about the 4G phone itself? Is there anything whiz bang that we’re going to get in June when this thing comes out?
CHEN: Besides the battery being slightly larger, I would say the biggest feature is the camera on the front, which is a video camera, so you can do video chats with, say, other phones or even with computers most likely. So you can hop on Skype or hop on iChat and do a little conversation while you’re on the go and show people what you’re looking at and see what they’re looking at. So it’s more of a personal conversation than just talking on the phone even, because you can visualize and see who you are talking to.
Ryssdal: You going to buy one?
Ryssdal: Jason Chen. He’s the editor of the website Gizmodo, talking to him about the new 4G iPhone prototype that he got his hands on. Jason, thanks a lot.
CHEN: Thank you very much.