It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but its not. Holy smartphone, it's happened again. On the eve of another iPhone release (iPhone 5 will reportedly come out later this month or next depending which reports you believe), Apple has lost its super secret iPhone prototype in a San Francisco Bay Area bar. Again! And somewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area, Gizmodo reporter Jason Chen is screaming, "Don't look at me this time!"
You may recall about 18 months ago (April of 2010), just a few months before the release of the highly anticipated iPhone 4, Chen got in a world of legal hurt after publishing pictures of a "missing" iPhone 4 prototype. the Gizmodo reporter claimed he bought it on behalf of his news organization for $5000 from a man who "found" it in a Redwood City bar (about a half hour south of San Francisco). Presumbably an Apple employee with access to the prototype had one too many Apple-tinis (Okay, that part's poetic license; couldn't resist. It was actually a beer garden.) and left it behind.
Apple didn't see it that way, claiming it was "stolen property" and while no one had reason to believe Chen stole it himself; Apple did press that he had to know it was stolen. Chen's apartment was raided by the local authorities seizing all his computer equipment. California has strict laws against knowingly possessing stolen property. It also has strict laws protecting the sources of journalists. Controversy ensued. Chen was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing and Apple sold a gazillion iPhone 4s (like there was ever a chance it wouldn't!). Now, fast forward to present day, weeks away from the next iPhone release.
As New York Yankee legend and tautological zen master, Yogi Berra would say: "It's deja vu all over again."
This time another iPhone prototype has been lost, presumbably the soon-to-be-released iPhone 5. This time it happened in a San Francisco bar, Cava22, which is described as a Tequila lounge. This time the finder of said phone reportedly sold it on Craig's List for $200 (economic indicator?).
Although the story broke this week, all this happened a month ago. Apple executives have been frantic to track down the phone. Apparantly it had a "Find my iPhone prototype" app installed (more tongue in cheek). Apple tracked down the missing phone to a residential address in San Francisco. Cops showed up. The resident claimed no knowledge of the phone and allowed them to search. It wasn't found. Apple executives on the scene offered a monetary reward and no questions asked if he could just cough up the phone. The man is sticking to his story and the prototype is still out there.
Really? I mean really? If Apple wants to leak a prototype to whip up pre-launch publicity, how about changing up the playbook! Do you believe lightening has struck twice? Is this just so goofy, could it actually be coincidence?
How come this never happens to Samsung or HTC?
Last updated: Sep 1, 2011
RENEE ORICCHIO is a technology writer and former supervising news producer for CNN Financial News. She has been covering the computer industry since 1987. @oricchio