AWOL iPhone: More bars in more places

It seems another iPhone prototype went out to a bar and never made it home again. Cringely will drink to that

Stop me if you've heard this one: An Apple engineer and an iPhone prototype walk into a bar...

What sounds like a setup to a joke is no joke to Apple, after yet another iPhone prototype went out for a quick one and never came back.

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According to a report by CNET, a preproduction version of Apple's yet-to-be-officially-announced-but-everyone-knows-it's-coming iPhone 5 got lost in a bar in July. Per the report:

A day or two after the phone was lost at San Francisco's Cava 22, which describes itself as a "tequila lounge" that also serves lime-marinated shrimp ceviche, Apple representatives contacted San Francisco police, saying the device was priceless and the company was desperate to secure its safe return, the source said.

Apple electronically traced the phone to a two-floor, single-family home in San Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood, according to the source.

The occupants of the home, however, claimed no knowledge of the wayward phone. A police search turned up nothing. Apple's efforts to bribe the guy to fork it over produced the same result.

But the bar owner, Jose Valle, came to the right conclusion. "I guess I have to make my drinks a little less strong," Valle said.

If this story sounds vaguely familiar, it's because the same thing happened to an iPhone 4 prototype last year. Apple engineer Gray Powell had too good a time at a San Jose hofbrau and left minus his proto phone. That wayward handset eventually found its way into the hands of Gizmodo, which paid its finder $5,000 for the right to fondle it for a couple of weeks and pump up its traffic. That case -– or rather, the duo who found the phone and thought they'd made a quick score on it -- is headed for trial in San Mateo.

Now, of course, some journos smell a rat. This story is so similar to the last one, some are speculating it's merely a publicity stunt designed to amp up the interest in yet another iPhone. (For the record, I thought the last one was, too. Guess I was wrong.)

The only logical conclusions:

  1. Working at Apple must really drive people to drink.
  2. Apple needs a new motto for its iPhone campaign. May I suggest "More bars in more places"?
  3. Along with a new motto, I might also suggest breathalyzers and sobriety tests for its engineering team, or at the very least ankle monitors.
  4. Beware of that lime-marinated shrimp ceviche. It'll knock you on your ass.

Obviously this story requires a lot more firsthand investigative reporting -- so I'm heading to the bar. I'll let you know if any more wayward iPhones suddenly turn up. Set 'em up, Jose.

Is it really possible Apple could have lost two iPhone prototypes? Weigh in below or email me:

This article, "AWOL iPhone: More bars in more places," was originally published at Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.