In what seems to be an annual tradition, Apple has once again lost an iPhone 5 prototype in a bar. Of course the internet is now abuzz and curious about this prototype, like what is it capable of, does it sport a larger screen, can it still play Angry Birds? As for me, I’m calling shenanigans! Why, you ask? Because I can’t help but wonder if this is the equivalent of viral marketing to give iFans a sneak peek and build hype. We’ve all seen viral marketing used on youtube, heck even some companies got in trouble for faking a leak only to be the originator of the “leak.”
Much like many of those leaked screenshots of the latest phone, such as Motorola’s Droid Bionic, this all helps to build speculation and fuel dreams as to what the phone may be capable of. The results can help drive sales and earn “free advertisement” in one fell swoop. Looking back, the results of the iPhone 4 caused a huge surge of demand that Apple had to suspend advance sales so they didn’t exceed their supply. Of course retailers couldn’t keep up with the demand and the supply eventually dried up. 1.7 million iPhone 4’s were sold in the first three days of availability.
Currently, Apple went to the police after it was reported missing but nothing has turned up yet. Last year, the phone ended up going to Gizmodo for $5,000 after it was found, the people who did find and sell it got a misdemeanor fine for selling it and Gizmodo got off scot-free (not to take anything away from Jason Chen, editor responsible for reviewing the prototype, whose house was raided looking for the missing prototype). Gawker (parent company of Gizmodo), got a lot of traffic and publicity for the iPhone 4 due to this mishap.
Don’t be surprised if another publication ends up with this prototype (we’re not in San Francisco where the phone “disappeared,” so it won’t be us) or another manufacturer “misplaces” a product in the future.
For more information go to The Register about the Missing prototype.
UPDATE: Included an article from PC Magazine implying this is a hoax