A controlled leak? The lost iPhone planted by Apple? You have no idea how Apple PR works—and how, like it or not, Gizmodo finally beat them at their own game.
The only way the iPhone 4 was a controlled leak is if Apple has completely upended its PR strategy, which is the envy of the entire business world. The only way it could even work, presuming it were true, would be the destruction of a decade of meticulously laid plans. It would be cashing in all the marketing chips for no clear gain; Does anyone really think the iPhone 4 wouldn't have been a huge story on its own in June?
The Lives of Other Journalists
For the better part of a decade, Apple has been the most secretive consumer company in the world. In an age of blogging vice-presidents and corporate Twitter accounts, Apple communicates with all the garrulousness of a defense contractor.
Ask journalists who have dealt with Apple PR and they'll tell you the same story: Apple is the most annoying company to work with in the business. At best, they're finicky, imposing ridiculous demands for simple requests like borrowing test products; at worst—and most commonly—they just won't respond to requests.
Once you've got the ear of Apple, they're great. Human, considerate, and helpful. But make a mistake or step on their toes and they shut off your drip. That's their system—and it works brilliantly. If you want access to Apple, you can't upset them. And since nothing gets attention like Apple products, it behooves those in the tech enthusiast press to stay in Apple's good graces.
(It bears mentioning that Apple also will remove advertising from outlets that it is unhappy with, as they did with Gizmodo ever since we reported on Steve Jobs' health problems. Fortunately in organizations with a clear wall between edit and advertising—not perfect at Gawker, but as good or better as any other outlet I've ever worked for—it isn't a concern for the writing staff.)