The recent flurry of reports suggesting an absent-minded Apple employee has once again lost an iPhone prototype could be a cleverly orchestrated publicity stunt, according to an article on marketing site The Drum.
An intrepid worker was apparently doing some iPhone 5 field testing at a Mexican restaurant in downtown San Francisco, neglecting to pick up the priceless device on his departure.
Sound familiar? Well, that would be due to the iPhone 4 befalling a similar fate last year, subsequently being plastered over gadget site Gizmodo ahead of its launch.
Needless to say, the web soon exploded with numerous postulations as to how the story ended this time around, from illicit Craigslist auctions to crack cops descending on the city and seeking out the rogue piece of bleeding-edge tech.
However, online media expert Iain Bruce of Revolver PR has deemed the entire affair a sham, created to attract attention for the latest model of Apple's eagerly anticipated smartphone.
Bruce didn't mince words: "You've got to hand it to Apple: when it comes to generating buzz amongst its legion of raving fan boys, they've really got it taped. Intentional or no, this will certainly set the social networks chattering and will doubtless presage a few months of slavering speculation as to what delights the iPhone 5 might contain.
"That said, it's all just a bit obvious this time round...what are the odds on a single missing gadget in a city of millions being found by someone connected to one of the most popular tech review sites in the world? It's all a bit hard to swallow.
"To lose something once is unfortunate. To lose something twice? Well ..."
To add some fuel to the conspiracy theory fire, this all transpired during the first press day of gadget trade show IFA, keeping Apple top of the blogs despite their non-attendance...