Apple's iPhone 4G passes the bar

Did you lose your top-secret Apple 4G handset in a bar last week? Apparently somebody did -- or this is just a fiendishly clever guerrilla marketing campaign by Apple

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One can only imagine what’s going on in the Apple CEO’s office at the moment. If the phone is a genuine prototype and not some clever knockoff, there are really only a couple of possibilities:

  1. An Apple (or AT&T) staffer screwed up very very badly (and is now hanging by his/her thumbs in a dungeon beneath One Infinite Loop).
  2. This was a deliberate plant by Apple to generate interest in the new phone for an audience suffering from post-iPad fatigue.

I’m betting on option No. 2. Here’s why.

We’re talking about the company that forced its iPad app development partners to chain the devices to a table in a locked windowless room and made them submit photos as proof. For all we know, Apple staked out each developer and had them tailed. I’d bet money they ran background checks.

This is the same company that has gone on witch hunts for people who leaked secrets about products that suck and sued bloggers for revealing same, despite the huge amounts of bad PR this generated.

Apple does not mess around. We know that. Yet we’re supposed to believe this iPhone prototype happened to find its way to a Silicon Valley bar on a Friday night, where someone happened to drop it on the floor and not notice, and someone else happened to pick it up and examine it closely enough to realize it was not your average iPhone, and then happened to forward it to not one but two intensely competing gadget blogs over a slow news weekend.

(The jokers at eSarcasm claim that this is just one of several 4G prototypes that were “lost” and conveniently found, but I’m not sure I believe them either.)

That fishy smell is not last night’s salmon. I guess we’ll know for sure when Apple officially reacts to the news. If Engadget or Gizmodo do not receive immediate nastygrams from Apple’s army of attorney zombies, then we’ll know the “leak” is bogus.

In any case, I’m heading out to a bar right now. Hey, it’s research. Somebody’s got to do it.

Do you think those iPhone pix are real and, if so, do you care? Post your thoughts (and your favorite cocktail recipes) below or email me: cringe@infoworld.com.

This story, "Apple's iPhone 4G passes the bar," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog.

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