According to Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Jennifer Granick, the cops blew it by obtaining a warrant to search Chen's apartment instead of a subpoena. The latter is required under federal and state laws when questioning journalists, so media organizations can challenge the order in front of a judge before the source materials are confiscated. Do these laws still apply in a criminal case? That's unclear.
"John Phoe," of course, blew it by demanding cash for a gadget he clearly did not own. The smart play would have been to offer his story to Gizmodo for $5,000 -- take the thing apart, snap photos, write up his conclusions, possibly under the guidance of a professional gadget monger -- and return the lost device to Apple. There's no law against that, as far as I know.
Then there's Apple. No doubt it felt wronged when news of its unreleased iPhone slipped out into public. But it's not like it's going to have a negative effect on sales or reveal some groundbreaking technology its competitors will steal. (They're already plenty busy trying to imitate Apple.)
As I speculated, at first this whole affair sounded like a clever marketing ploy to get attention for a product that might not otherwise have received the usual fawning adulation from an Apple-saturated media. Now it's been in the headlines for weeks. So how did the company get harmed, exactly?
The sporting thing would have been to acknowledge defeat and move on. But doing the sporting thing is not Steve Jobs' way. Does this just further Apple's reputation as a bully? Yes. Does Steve Jobs care? Hell no. Like Hebrew National, he answers only to a higher authority. Even then, I'm not entirely sure who's giving the orders.
Who would you throw the book at in this courtroom drama? E-mail me: email@example.com.