After Gizmodo, a gadget blog owned by Gawker Media, paid $5,000 to obtain a next-generation iPhone that an unfortunate Apple engineer left sitting in a Silicon Valley bar, things started to get ugly out there in gadget land.
Officers from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office kicked in a journalist’s doors and confiscated computers. Apple didn’t do the kicking, but it apparently filed a complaint " not seeking the return of their phone, which they had already retrieved, but information.
According to a report from Wired, at some point people identifying themselves as representatives of Apple visited the home of the man apparently trying to peddle the phone, asking to search the premises. Home visits seem a little more up the alley of the Church of Scientology, another nongovernmental organization preoccupied by secrecy.
Perhaps the law is on the side of Apple and that of the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team, California’s high-tech crimes task force, which served the search warrant (Apple is represented on the public agency’s board).
“When I got home, I noticed the garage door was half-open,” he said in a letter posted on Gizmodo. “And when I tried to open it, officers came out and said they had a warrant to search my house and any vehicles on the property ‘in my control.’ They then made me place my hands behind my head and searched me to make sure I had no weapons or sharp objects on me.”
Apple has an admirable history of innovation and marketplace performance, but this time the company and Mr. Jobs are drawing attention for all the wrong reasons. Everyone knows that it is his show, his call. But in engaging the long arm of the law on behalf of his corporate interests, Mr. Jobs may lead us to think, um, differently about Apple’s growing cultural dominance.