At 21 years old, Brian Hogan became one of the most infamous people in Apple news when he found and sold a prototype of the then-unreleased iPhone 4 to tech blog Gizmodo. It was one of the biggest ‘gets’ in the history of tech journalism, but it tore Hogan’s life apart… and now he’s answering questions about the experience on a Reddit AMA (or Ask Me Anything thread).
In the on-going Q&A, Hogan starts off by explaining how he came to have the iPhone 4 in his posession:
When I was 21 I was at a bar pretty late at night with 2 friends. After the last call both of my friends went to the bathroom, as they left a random drunk guy came out, walked up to me, picked up the phone on the bar stool next to me, and said don’t forget your phone! I told him it wasn’t mine and I didn’t know who it belonged to. Random drunk guy hands me the phone and tasks me with finding its owner. I ask around and cant figure out who it belongs to, and after my friends returned we left and walked home having intentions of figuring out who the phone belonged to and giving it back.
The next day I woke up and actually forgot that I had the phone at first, then went about trying to figure out who it belonged to. I checked Craigslist, then started looking at the actual phone for clues. First I noticed that the screen looked like it had a higher resolution than any iPhone I had seen, then that the case had plastic pieces/buttons in strange places. When I took the case off I found an iPhone with a flat back, flat edges, and a forward facing camera. There were two bar code stickers on the back, and there were a series of x’s instead of a serial number. I was very curious/excited at this point, but I had no idea what I had.
From there, Hogan tried to sell the device to several tech blogs, but Gizmodo was the one who bit, offering him $5,000 for the deive and an additional $3,000 (which Hogan never received) if Apple confirmed the device was real.
The ordeal, which eventually ended up resulting in criminal charges, tore apart Hogan’s personal life.
It was extremely tough on my family, there were news vans in front of my house and we ended up staying at a hotel in the east bay for a week until they left. My name got out in the media because my girlfriend at the time made a Facebook post about it, which I asked her to delete, but the press found her and she couldn’t deal with all the stress that followed and we broke up maybe 3 months after that.
Hogan says that he holds no hard feelings over what happened, but that he does regret the entire incident. Unsurprisingly, he completely avoids Apple products now, working on a Windows PC and carrying around a Galaxy S3 smartphone.
The AMA is still going on, so if you want to ask Hogan a question, it’s here.