Missing iPhone 5: Just Another Publicity Stunt?

An Apple employee with a new iPhone prototype walks into a bar and…wait, you’ve heard this one before? Well, that’s what other people are saying, too, and some think that the missing iPhone 5 prototype is just a cheap marketing gimmick.

"You've got to hand it to Apple: when it comes to generating buzz amongst its legion of raving fan boys, they've really got it taped,” said Iain Bruce of PR firm, Revolver on marketing website, TheDrum.co.uk.

"That said, it's all just a bit obvious this time round,” Bruce continued. “The suggestion that a company famed for maintaining very tight, centralist control of its communications could let news as sensitive as a missing prototype 'accidentally' leak out simply doesn't sit right. And what are the odds on a single missing gadget in a city of millions being found by someone connected to one of the most popular tech review sites in the world? It's all a bit hard to swallow.”

Bruce is not the only one who thinks Apple might be trying to duplicate the publicity success of last year when an Apple employee lost an iPhone 4 at a bar.

On Twitter, @rebeccasry voiced her skepticism. “iPhone 5 prototype left in a bar again?” she tweeted. “Now I'm starting to think Apple's using this as a publicity stunt.”

@johncevans said, “Apple employee leaves iPhone 5 prototype in Mex restaurant by ‘accident.’ Smells like a stunt. Or great Sangria.”

And @mattmcgee joked that this all might be an executive boardroom tactic to ease investor fears. “I think the lost-iPhone-5-in-a-bar thing is just a ruse to show people that there's continuity between the Jobs and Cook eras,” he tweeted.

On tech site Mashable.com, many commenters also believed the missing iPhone 5 is a publicity stunt.

John Bell said, “It’s called HYPE.. yes it’s on purpose.. they WANT you to speculate and think about the phone and get as much info about it on search engines as possible.. it’s all marketing.”

And Ahmed Saleh said, “I guess Apple is losing the ‘Apple employer walked into a bar’ breaking news every year as a marketing campaign for their new phone, so that all the tech sites and media keep talking about the new phone and what new features will be in it. Better than any ad campaign any other company can think of!”

Whether or not it is “hype” or an “ad campaign,” there does not appear to be any shortage of enthusiasm. People just can’t stop talking about the iPhone 5.