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For Apple, Lost iPhone is a Big Deal

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For anyone who has ever lost a cellphone, remember this: it could be worse. You could be the person who left his phone in a bar in California. And it wasnt just any phone; it was a supersecret version of the next iPhone. That model is not expected to be formally unveiled for a couple of months.

For the people at Apple, it must be like a bad version of the guy walks into a bar joke.

The company is known as the most secretive in Silicon Valley, and leaks are rare. But after the phone prototype was left in a bar in the Silicon Valley town of Redwood City, photos of the device began appearing over the weekend in technology blogs, sparking a frenzy of hype among the Apple-obsessed.

Before long, pictures of the product appeared on Gizmodo, a technology news site, whose editors ripped it apart as if it were an alien from another planet to dissect its features. The Web site said late Monday that the phone belonged to an Apple engineer.

The phones authenticity was hotly debated, but most bloggers concluded it was real. And a person with knowledge of Apples hardware plans who was not authorized to speak on behalf of the company confirmed to The New York Times that it was real.

Apple declined to comment.

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