iPhone-fuelled suspicion as iCloud changes name

Paul McNamara
13 September, 2011
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Yes, the story of Apple’s police-aided, ham-handed hunt for a second lost iPhone prototype has received a fair amount of attention. However, the Keystone Kops-like caper deserves a lot more, and probably would have gotten it right off the bat were it not for two facts: The story reached critical mass over the (US) Labor Day weekend and more than a few journalists were at first convinced that it had to be a hoax or a marketing stunt, because, well, how in the name of Woz could this have happened twice … to Apple?

It did.

Here’s the background on the latest episode, as publicly understood: The device goes missing in late July from a San Francisco watering hole; Apple traces it via GPS (presumably after freaking out) to a home in the same city; six suits, at least one of whom reportedly identifies himself as a police officer, arrive on the homeowner’s doorstep and ask to search the place; the homeowner, reasonably assuming that he’s looking at a half-dozen cops –  not the four flatfoots plus two Apple security agents actually there – admits to having been at the bar (ding, ding, ding) denies having the phone and acquiesces to the search; two of the suits – reportedly the Apple two – enter the home and find nary an iPhone 5 prototype.

Fast-forward a month: CNET publishes an exclusive outlining the lost-and-not-found tale; police spokespeople insist they have no record of any such search or even a missing-phone report from Apple; media skeptics heckle CNET. Then a San Francisco reporter finds the homeowner, who confirms the gist of the CNET story.


Questions abound: Did the Apple operatives illegally represent themselves as police officers? Did the cops help the homeowner reach that erroneous conclusion? Did the gang of six coerce the homeowner into opening up his abode, as he has suggested? If there was incriminating evidence, why didn’t the police get a warrant? Why was there no police report, or at least none revealed? (OK, the last two are easy; we’d have been writing about all of this back in July instead of now.)

And, last – if certainly least – what happened to the phone?

The San Francisco police now say they have begun an internal investigation into the conduct of their officers, and, one would assume, the Apple duo.

Apple has said less about the whole thing than it has the iPhone 5, but it’s only a matter of time before a reporter corners the company’s new CEO Tim Cook and asks, essentially:

“Hey, Tim, is this how you want your guys to roll?”

iCloud name opens up for Apple

Meanwhile . . . Remember that Arizona VoIP services provider called iCloud Communications that sued Apple last winter over the latter’s plan to offer an online storage service that would also be called iCloud?

Well, it seems as though iCloud Communications is dropping that lawsuit and is undergoing a name change to Clear Digital Communications.

Why? Neither party to the lawsuit has commented publicly, so let’s fill the void with speculation:

Perhaps the Arizona iCloud guys decided to let bygones be bygones.

Maybe they realised that they didn’t have a case, even though it sure looked like they did to this layman.

Or maybe – just maybe – Apple swung open the chequebook and made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

I’m going with the last one, of course, at least until told otherwise.

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