Apple “loses” iPhone 5; tech world disbelieving

An Apple employee has lost a prototype of the next generation of iPhone in a California bar. And if that sounds familiar, you’re might be forgiven for being a little cynical.

The story this time comes from CNet which reports the handset was lost in San Francisco’s Cava 22 (pictured via Google Street View), a bar that’s apparently quite heavy on the carelessness-inducing tequila. An unnamed source says the phone went missing but Apple traced it to a nearby home (not, of course, that Apple keeps tabs on the movements of iPhones in any illegal manner.) Police then visited the home and searched it, finding nothing.

To be fair, even CNet acknowledges the story is difficult to flesh out. The bar owner confirmed a man did call him about a lost iPhone (though not specifying what model), but Apple isn’t commenting, the San Francisco police say they’ve not received a formal report, and the bar owner says the police haven’t been in touch.

The CNet source also talks of the phone being sold on Craigslist for $200, though there are no details on whether this is true, how the source knows it, and why the police wouldn’t get involved.

Those who assume this is a publicity stunt are pointing to the incident last year in which a man found a lost 4G iPhone prototype in a bar and sold it to tech site Gizmodo for $5,000. Police later controversially raided the home of Gizmodo staffer Jason Chen.

Prosecutors decided this year not to lay any charges against Gizmodo staff. The man who is accused of finding and selling the phone, Brian Hogan, was charged with “misappropriation of lost property”, a much less serious charge than theft. Another man, Sage Wallower, has been charged with handling stolen property.

Of course, while there’s no question the events of last year were genuine, it turned out to be a tremendous way for Apple to get publicity for the device without breaching its own policies on keeping details under wraps. That’s led to insinuations that a repeat incident this year would certainly spark more interest, with tech writers opening their checkbooks and hunting down the handset like the remaining golden ticket.

Personally, I subscribe to the rule of never blaming something on a conspiracy that can be explained by human stupidity, and there are few more stupid than those who’ve been on the tequilas.

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