The Ruby Principle tells us Apple didn't fake latest 'lost iPhone'

Updated: Vendors can do stupid things, but not Apple when it's this stupid

The Ruby Principle

(Update below.)

Those who believe a conspiracy was behind the assassination of President John F. Kennedy routinely attempt to bolster their argument with a question: "Why would Jack Ruby kill Lee Harvey Oswald?"

There is no plausible answer, they say, and I tend to agree.

Same with this question: Why would Apple fake the disappearance of another iPhone prototype, thus setting off a predictable second round of "how could they be so stupid" stories ... as well as suggestions of marketing shenanigans.

This time there's even less of a plausible why; it's inconceivable.

Yet the headline on Computerworld's daily blog digest reads: "iPhone 5 lost in bar -- or just a stunt?" This story suggests that "CNET (which broke the story) has cleared Apple of carrying out a cheap publicity stunt," meaning that Apple was seen as being in need of such exoneration. And the online chattering masses are abuzz with similar raised eyebrows and outright accusations.

(16 tech milestones of a million, billion or more)

Chill people; this was no stunt. And here are a few reasons why:

  • First and foremost, Apple needs to artificially manufacture more publicity for the iPhone in much the same way that the East Coast needs another hurricane. There is an ever-expanding swath of the online news-and-blogging universe that freely and without prompting devotes its every waking moment to reporting even the most trivial iPhone happenings, past, present and future.
  • If this was a publicity stunt - which it wasn't -- it involved actual criminal activity on the part of Apple and its employees, as there was reportedly extensive police involvement in the search for the device. What would possess someone working for Apple (a sweet, sweet gig) to even contemplate - never mind suggest, receive approval for and execute - such an irresponsibly lame-brained idea? I'd fire the person on the spot. So would Steve Jobs.
  • And then there's the fact that conspiracies are difficult to execute and even tougher to cover up. According to the CNET story, Apple told San Francisco police that the missing iPhone was priceless. If it's disappearance didn't happen and this was instead a marketing stunt, well, the cost of that being discovered would be nearly incalculable. And it would be discovered.

I'm more willing to believe that Ruby killed Oswald of his own volition.

(Update, Friday: As skepticism about the story grows, a CNET reporter tells me they stand by their story. I think they're on pretty firm ground, too.)

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