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Is the iPhone 4.0 leak just a big PR stunt?

Posted by Danny Whatmough on 21st April 2010

Is this perhaps the biggest leak in tech history? If you were stranded abroad because of the #ashtag, you may have missed the pandemonium that has been circulating in techland this week due to the leak of Apple’s next iPhone, cunningly named (we think) iPhone 4. Here are the key facts in the saga:

  • Last Saturday, tech blog Engadget posted pictures of what it said was genuine pictures of the new iPhone, widely expected to be released this summer
  • Two days later, Engadget’s sworn enemy in tech journalism, Gizmodo, claims to actually have the phone and posts detailed images and video
  • Claims emerge that Gizmodo actually ‘paid’ for the phone and all sorts of allegations about legal repercussions start to do the rounds
  • Rumours abound that Gray Powell, a 27 year old Apple software engineer was the unfortunate individual that lost the prototype at a German Beer Bar in Redwood City, California

All in all a bit of a controversial affair that has prompted all sorts of questions (mainly from rival news outlets including the Guardian and Engadget) about the ethics behind paying for what is essentially stolen goods.

However, the question that immediately sprung to my mind was, whether this was a leak, an accident or just another PR stunt from Apple. Whilst I’d love it to be true, I think the latter is probably unlikely. Here’s why:

  1. Apple hasn’t used this strategy before and it doesn’t usually deviate from its tried and tested routes
  2. It overshadows their most recent product, the iPad, which itself is suffering from some negative publicity, especially outside the US
  3. The secrecy around Apple launches is what fuels much of the interest. Removing this mystery so far in advance of the actual launch (expected in June) seems unwise

Will this hurt Apple? I wouldn’t expect so, but I’d imagine that Steve Jobs – who seems to me to be a total control freak – will be less than impressed! This is more publicity and more attention for Apple and, whilst the hardware pictures are now in the open, I’m sure there will be some more surprises to wow the Apple fanboys on launch day.

Danny Whatmough