Recently, technology blog website Gizmodo released pictures of what turned out to be the upcoming fourth-generation Apple iPhone.

By any journalistic measure, this would have been the scoop of the year had it not been for the methods in which Gizmodo obtained their copy of the prototype. The reading public overloaded the comments section of the website the day the story broke.

The details, as described by the website operators, can be found here: The Tale of Apple’s Next iPhone. Like many adventure stories, this one begins in a bar.

There are three things that immediately come to mind. First of all, the prototype is obviously the property of Apple. The second and third are even more troubling: One, the bloggers have openly admitted to paying $5,000 to obtain the device from a third party, who only made some perfunctory attempts to return the device before selling it. Two, and to the chagrin of some poor Apple employee, the authors of this story saw fit to publish the name of the engineer who lost the prototype as well.

This is an unfortunate turn of events for both Apple, Gizmodo and the engineer who lost the phone. Apple has lost PR control over a core aspect of their business. Gizmodo has opened itself to serious legal action. It is also safe to say that they have little chance of being invited to the next Apple product launch for a very long time. Last, but not least, the ramifications for the poor engineer are plain enough to imagine. Nobody wins in this scenario.

This tale is a vivid example of what can go wrong in the reporting of proprietary business activities and illustrates why we at iData place an emphasis on confidentiality and unbiased research. There is a faint ring of familiarity for those of us here in the research department. We report on business activities, but in reality, there is an important human element behind the numbers, and that the humanity of the data cannot be reached without trust and credibility.