Blog Allegedly Paid For Steve Jobs Email Exchange

The Boy Genius Report offered to pay a man, he says, for the controversial email conversation he had with Apple chief executive Steve Jobs about the iPhone 4.

Antone Gonsalves, Contributor

July 2, 2010

3 Min Read

The man who purportedly had a controversial email conversation with Apple chief executive Steve Jobs claims he was paid by the tech blog that published the exchange.

J. Jason Burford, Richmond, Va., told InformationWeek Friday that he contacted the Boy Genius Report out of anger with the dismissive comments allegedly from Jobs. Burford was upset over the poor reception he was receiving with the iPhone 4, Apple's latest smartphone released late last month.

Burford claimed Boy Genius offered to pay for the email thread after they saw it. "They said they'd pay for it and, stupidly, I said OK," Burford said in a telephone interview. "It wasn't a lot of money, and anyway, it wasn't worth it."

Burford declined to say how much he was paid, and Boy Genius was unavailable for comment.

AppleInsider reported Thursday that Burford had tried to sell the email thread to the site two days before. Burford acknowledged sending an email to the site, but said he only made a "tongue-in-cheek" reference to payment. "It was more of a joke," he said. "I said I wanted money to buy a new phone."

Most traditional news media refuse to pay news sources for information to avoid having the source tailor the information in order to make money. If Boy Genius paid Burford, then it would join Gizmodo in using money to get "exclusives."

Gizmodo acknowledged paying $5,000 for a prototype of the iPhone 4 that was either left or stolen from an Apple engineer at a Silicon Valley bar. The site tore apart the smartphone and published pictures before its release, angering Apple. The incident is under investigation by the San Mateo County, Calif., district attorney's office.

In the latest incident, an Apple spokesman "emphatically denied" that Jobs took part in the conversation with Burford, Fortune magazine reported late Thursday.

Apple did not respond Friday to a request for comment from InformationWeek.

Burford acknowledged that he didn't know for sure whether Jobs was the actual person responding under the CEO's public email address, [email protected]. However, Burford insists the email thread was real.

"It's a little upsetting that they called me a liar," Burford said of Apple's denial.

Boy Genius also stands by the authenticity of the email exchange between Burford and Apple. However, the site late Thursday retracted the last, and most dismissive, comment attributed to Jobs. Burford, not Jobs, finished the exchange by saying, "Retire, relax, enjoy your family. It is just a phone. Not worth it."

The purported conversation between tech icon Jobs and Burford was picked up by more than three-dozen Web sites. The exchange drew attention because of the dismissive tone attributed to Jobs, and the fact that the comments escalated Burford's anger to a point where he says, "stop with jackass comments."

Burford acknowledges he was angry at the time, but has since sent an email apologizing to Apple. "I lost my patience, and I'm really embarrassed," he said.

The controversy stems from reception problems reported by iPhone 4 customers. Users have complained of dropped calls when their hands touch the lower-left corner of the iPhone. The smartphone has a unique design in that the antenna is embedded in the metal band wrapped around the device. The design allows for a thinner iPhone than the previous generation.

Apple has never acknowledged a problem with the antenna design. Instead, the company released a statement Friday saying faulty software in the iPhone has given iPhone users an incorrect indication of signal strength, making it seem stronger than it actually is. The implication is that the problem is the result of a weak signal and not the antenna. Apple says it will eventually release a software update to fix the problem.

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