Hey, Internet! Gizmodo Has the Next iPhone. For Real! (Maybe.)

Engadget's pictures of the rumored next-gen iPhone prototype.

It belongs in a museum! (Or maybe at least back at Apple-maybe.)

At first, it seemed too good to be true, and folks were rightly skeptical, but at this point it seems that the gadget community (or at least the major blogs) have decided that the iPhone prototype discovered at a San Jose bar over the weekend last week and purchased by Gizmodo is legit. So legit in fact, that it’s burning up the ol’ Internet, and even temporarily forced a comment shutdown across the Gawker empire when Gizmodo’s in-depth hands-on with the device first went up. The whole writeup is very much worth checking out, and even though the device doesn’t boot (it appears to have been remotely wiped), Giz has taken it apart and the internals are brimming with “Apple” stamps.

Gizmodo also cites a blog post by the ever-reliable John Gruber, who vouches for the plausibility of the find based on the original Engadget post and notes that he hears the folks at Apple are very interested in getting the device back. The real story now becomes, as Gruber hints at in a post today, whether or not Gizmodo knowingly purchased Apple property that may fit someone’s definition of “stolen.” (Judging by the fact that Engadget had pictures first, we’re guessing the “finder” attempted, perhaps successfully, to start a bidding war for the device among the gadget blogs.) We’re sure the usual Gawker cadre of attorneys vetted this purchase, and somewhere they must have some layer of plausible deniability, but even as their acquisition shoots to the top of Digg, we’re left wondering when the other shoe might fall on Gizmodo or its (so-far anonymous) iPhone “finder.”

Based on what we’ve seen in the past, Apple’s shoes are very big and fall very hard. That said, so far this thing is very uncharacteristic for Apple, which famously maintains an incredible amount of control over unreleased and unannounced products. With the amount of attention people pay to Apple, though, maybe it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. Then again, maybe this is a diabolically brilliant ploy to expose a mole and/or stick it to the blogs, as they’ve allegedly done in the past. Either way, this is just the beginning.

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