In case you haven’t heard, the next version of the iPhone escaped from captivity earlier in the week and was abandoned in a bar in Redwood City, CA. If you’re at all a fan of Apple, or maybe just curious about what the latest and greatest smart phone looks like you can learn all about it here, assuming that you haven’t already.

It’s pretty neat looking, right? It looks like they have made some pretty solid changes, including a physical camera shutter-button, a front facing camera for video chat, noise cancellation, and most important of all, a bigger battery.

Many have been skeptical as to whether or not the phone itself is authentic. Of this, I think there is no doubt whatsoever. I haven’t handled the phone myself or anything, but the photos are very convincing and Gizmodo (who gave this thing a tremendously thorough review) has a reputation for knowing what they’re talking about. If they’re sold that this is real, so am I.

Where my skepticism comes into play is with the way that the phone got into Gizmodo’s hands. Jobs is notorious for both controlled leaks of information in order to create hype, as well as feeding incorrect data to teams within Apple in order to find out the sources of unwanted leaks. I’m not convinced that a top-secret piece of equipment could just get up and walk out of a ship as tight as Apple.

This seems to be an elaborate viral advertising ploy by Apple for a couple of reasons:

1) The fact that a team of Lawyers did not zip down from a swarm of black helicopters onto Gizmodo’s roof as soon as this story broke is pretty telling. Apple’s legal team has, after all, made websites remove pieces of unauthorized information about apple, as well as sued competitors left and right for patent infringement at the slightest hint of a similarity. If there were an honest-to-god prototype of an as of yet unreleased iPhone , I really wouldn’t put it past Apple to hire mercenaries to get it back. The fact that they eally don’t seem too upset about this screams that this was a set-up

2) The timing seems a bit too convenient. Verizon is about to get its first really good smart-phone. The HTC Incredible is set to hit shelves on April 29th. Engadget has this to say about it: “If you’re on Verizon right now, you’re finally getting really great options for phones, but the Incredible is currently sitting at the top of that heap with a good bit of distance to the next in line.”

This means that Verizon customers who may have been ready to jump ship for an iPhone just got a reason to renew their current contract. That is, until they catch a glimpse of what normally wouldn’t have been released until June. I really think Jobs called an audible, leaked this to Gizmodo, or some intermediary, because he saw this new model from HTC as a legitimate threat.

If this was an accident, Apple is getting great press for it and acting very laid back about the whole thing. If, as I suspect, this is just a big commercial for thenext generation of iPhone, it was very well executed, as evidenced by the facts that 1) I wrote this and 2) you’re reading it.

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