[Insert joke about German beer and engineers here.]
Anyway, the gentleman who found the phone apparently waited for the phone's owner to return for some time, and was able to identify him from his Facebook profile on the phone. He intended to return the phone the next day, but it was bricked (or MobileMe deactivated) the next morning. That's when he began noticing ... strange things. Like the front-facing camera and the barcodes on the back.
[Insert surprised wisecrack that Apple's prototype units don't have "lock with passcode after 10 seconds" turned on by default.]
That was back on March 18. Gizmodo says they got the phone some weeks later, and today they confirmed it was a legit Apple item by calling the engineer at work. At Apple. Where he still apparently has a phone and access to a desk.
[Insert shock and astonishment.]
It's a fascinating read, and if nothing else, it more or less confirms that yes, we're looking at an official Apple prototype. Lesson of the day: Do not, do not, mix beer and priceless unreleased iPhones.
Meanwhile, here's an obvious point: it's clear Gizmodo had few or no qualms about publicly announcing the name of the Apple staffer who lost the phone (which I originally reproduced in this post, but redacted based on feedback from readers). When should we expect the follow-up story announcing the name and employer of the person who found the phone and in turn provided it to Gizmodo?