Apple Loses Another iPhone Prototype in a Bar

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Remember the iPhone 4 scandal of 2010? Well, apparently Apple didn't learn its lesson the first time, and it's misplaced yet another top-secret iPhone prototype. This time, however, it was (supposedly) an iPhone 5.

According to CNET, an Apple employee lost an iPhone in Cava22, a bar in San Francisco's Mission district. The missing iPhone, which was lost sometime in July, sparked a "scramble" by Apple security to recover the device (according to an unnamed source "familiar with the situation").

Apparently whoever picked up the iPhone this year wasn't as smart (or, perhaps, as stupid) as Brian Hogan, who sold last year's prototype to gadget blog Gizmodo for $5000. According to CNET, there's evidence that the iPhone-finder may have instead sold the device on Craigslist for a mere $200.

Other than that, there's not much to report. CNET's unnamed source has no notes on what the device looks like, what iOS the device may have been running, or any other details. So how do we know that this device was even special? Well, a couple of days after the phone went missing, Apple representatives contacted San Francisco police and said the device was "priceless" and that the company was "desperate to secure its safe return."

Apple then electronically traced the missing iPhone to a house in San Francisco's Bernal Heights. Apple alerted police to this location, and San Francisco police, along with Apple investigators, showed up at the home and spoke with a 20-something-year-old man who said he had in fact been at Cava22 on the night the iPhone went missing. However, he denied knowing anything about the phone and gave police permission to search the house. They found nothing.

Apple investigators then offered money for the phone, but the man continued to deny knowing anything about it.

That's kind of embarrassing for Apple--especially after last year's fiasco, when Apple engineer Gray Powell accidentally left his iPhone 4 prototype in a beer garden in Redwood City. That prototype was picked up by Hogan, who allegedly tried to return it to Powell (and then, when he couldn't contact Powell, to Apple), before selling it to Gizmodo for $5000. Gizmodo posted an exposé of the device on its blog, and, well, the rest was history.

CNET says Apple has been taking extra precautions with its new prototypes--sending next-gen iPhones to carriers in "locked and sealed boxes" and giving developers iPhone 4s with upgraded processors. But all the precautions in the world aren't enough to keep people from being people--tipsy, forgetful people.

Meanwhile, whoever's got that iPhone prototype--I think you should send it to me. I can't pay you cash, but I can put your name in a PCWorld story!

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