In late July, Apple reportedly lost another iPhone prototype, presumably one of the iPhone 5. CNET somehow found out about the news and published it on August 31.
Now, the whole tech world is buzzing about the lost prototype incident and the upcoming iPhone 5 - as if there isn't already enough hype generated by constant rumors surrounding its release date.
Last year, Apple also reportedly misplaced an iPhone 4 prototype. Back then, it was obtained by tech publication Gizmodo, which then wrote a widely-read article on the device and generated hype for its official release.
The pattern of losing iPhone prototypes, and the resulting effect of generating hype for the devices, has raised some suspicion.
Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, say the Apple conspiracy theorists, who believe the company is deliberately misplacing prototype iPhones in order to generate free publicity and hype.
However, I seriously doubt that Apple is stupid enough to go that far.
It's plausible that the Apple PR mastermind would plant photos, rumors, and details. Had their actions been different, it's even plausible that Apple would purposely misplace an iPhone 5 prototype.
What's not plausible, however, is leading U.S. police forces to ransack an American citizen's residence to look for a lost iPhone 5 prototype weeks before the public knew it was missing.
Apple isn't stupid.
It knows that stringing the police along in a fake iPhone 5 prototype chase is blatantly illegal and carries serious criminal consequences. Moreover, it would look extreme bad to the public and consumers if Apple knowingly and purposely searched the home of an innocent individual.
The risks are simply too great and the rewards are limited. Plus, Apple isn't in desperate need of more hype for the iPhone 5.
There is already a considerate buzz and speculation surrounding the iPhone 5; the constant rumors, planted by Apple or originating from elsewhere, seem to do a fine job.
Even without any rumors, Apple would still enjoy rampant lust for its products, particularly for the highly-anticipated iPhone 5.
Last year, when an iPhone 4 prototype was mysteriously sold to tech publication Gizmodo, one can make a plausible argument that Apple did it on purpose. (However, Gizmodo gives a detailed account of how an Apple engineer legitimately may have lost the iPhone 4 prototype and how it ended in the publication's possession).
This year, however, the actions of contacting the police to ransack an individual's house before the public even knew a prototype was missing simply don't point to an elaborate publicity stunt.
Instead, it points a corporation urgently trying to recover a prototype that was misplaced at a tequila lounge by a possibly intoxicated Apple employee.