Last week's iPhone 5 rumour harvest shows a certain desperation and perhaps oxygen starvation: The iOSsphere is living on rumours built on rumours built on other rumours.

This time, a generic drawing in an application "reveals" the iPhone 5, the lost or theft of another prototype may be phony, an early upgrade for Android phone users at one carrier means good news for iPhone users, and no big-screen iPhone 5.

You read it here second.

"'Quashing' a rumor with another rumor is like squashing Jell-O with Jell-O. It just adds to the mess." -- Anonymous

iPhone 5 revealed by illustration used in beta cloud service from Apple.

9to5Mac "broke the news" that a grainy illustration used in the latest beta release of Apple's Photo Stream cloud service "seems to look like" an earlier iPhone 5 rumor -- a model with an edge-to-edge screen and a wider home button.

In a later post, the website created mockups based on counting the pixels and figuring the "new dimensions" supposedly revealed in the illustration.

Here's the illustration it's all based on, which shows some kind of smartphone illustration, above two other illustrations, one of a camera, and one of a group of photographs.

"What do you think?" Seth Weintraub asks. " Coincidence?" As everyone knows, there are no coincidences in the iOSsphere.

Photo Stream is a photo taking, storing and sharing service that's part of Apple's iCloud, which is being introduced with the fall release of iOS 5.

In a follow-up post, Weintraub includes a mockup of an iPhone 5 based on the illustration. It shows an iPhone that's actually smaller in overall size than the iPhone 4, but with an edge-to-edge screen that is two-tenths of an inch longer diagonally -- 3.7 inches instead of 3.5.

Unless, the illustration actually reveals the other iPhone 5 -- one that will offer a larger screen (9to5Mac accepts the long-standing rumor that Apple is set to reveal two new iPhones) -- and Weintraub helpfully includes a comparison illustration of that possibility, too.

Of course, naysayers might say that the illustration that generated all this creative activity is "just" a generic smartphone icon illustration; and that it would be foolish, if not presumptuous, to conclude it's an actual depiction of one or the other of the two unannounced Next iPhones. But they would be wrong.

MacRumors picked up on the same revelation, observing the illustration "matches up nicely with many of the circulating rumors about the iPhone 5."

"As pointed out by one of our readers," notes MacRumors, "Apple tends to be very precise with their artwork, even at small icon sizes." That reader, nickpro, posted in the MacRumors forum, "can anyone point to another instance where a 'generic' iOS device has been pictured anywhere in apple's marketing materials, mac os x graphics, etc.? i have NEVER seen apple do this anywhere. i don't buy the explanation, thats the iPhone 5." And he posted a screenshot showing teeny but precise illustrations of the various Apple mobile products.

The problem with this kind of "reasoning" in this case is that, as MacRumors itself notes, "There isn't a whole lot of detail with the icon ..." Which is an understatement, as can be seen in the icon blow-up that MacRumors posted along with its own previously posted rendering of what a Next iPhone would look like if it looked like the device that would fit in "leaked" prototypes of third-party phone cases purportedly for iPhone 5.

"We had initially dismissed it as possibly being a generic artist rendition, but upon further consideration, it does seem too coincidental that an icon closely resembling circulating rumors would appear in an official Apple release," concluded MacRumors' Arnold Kim.

There. Are. No. Coincidences.

iPhone 5 prototype left in a bar! Or not!

CNET says an iPhone prototype was left behind in a tequila bar in San Francisco, touching off an investigation by "Apple security" (guys in red shirts, no doubt) and eventually the police.

But if anyone lost it, and anyone else then stole it, so far they haven't sold it to Gizmodo or posted any pictures on the Internet. So we still don't know what the prototype looks like. Or whether it's actually an iPhone 5 prototype or possibly just an iPhone 4 with upgraded CPU, which was released to some developers earlier this year, presumably to test apps and development tools with the more powerful chip and iOS 5.

And at week's end, doubts have begun to emerge about the whole alleged incident, as's Ed Oswald summarizes. The San Francisco Police Department says it doesn't have any information about a reported theft, or an investigation.

CNET based its report entirely on one source who claimed to be "familiar with the investigation," though CNET doesn't indicate whether that means the investigation by Apple security or by police.

The phone allegedly was left behind in a Mexican restaurant and bar called Cava 22. According to CNET's source, Apple traced the phone electronically to a two-floor, single-family home in San Francisco's Bernal Heights, where a team of Apple security and local police questioned a man in his mid-20s. The man denied any knowledge of the phone.

It is of course eerily reminiscent of the lost iPhone 4 prototype in 2010, also at a bar in California. The phone was picked up and then hawked to various online media outlets until the "news" website Gizmodo forked over $5,000 in cash for the stolen property, disassembled it and posted the results online. It was the stuff of Shakespearean tragicomedy, at least by "John Shakespeare" [see our satire, "Love's Labor Lost (or Stolen): a felony in three acts"].

Hope fades. No early September iPhone 5 announcement.

After last week explaining its flawless reasoning about why it was likely that Apple would send out press invitations this week to announce iPhone 5 next week, Beatweek this week acknowledged that it probably wasn't going to happen.

"Hopes of a post-Labor Day release date for the iPhone 5 fade as Apple fails to announce a launch event prior to the holiday weekend," Johnny Major posted

There was sense of bafflement: What was Apple thinking?! "September 7th had long been circled as an ideal date for the event which would push the iPhone 5 into the spotlight ...," he writes. Technically, that should be, "... had long been circled by Beatweek as an ideal date."

"That leaves the iPhone 5 looking for a release date all over again," Major grouses.

That seems ungrateful. If the announcement date and release date were both announced, think of how few rumors the iOSsphere would be able to produce.

In a separate post, Major insists that Apple's inexplicable "delay" of the iPhone 5 "has frustrated though not quite fully alienated many among its intended customer base. ... In my opinion, Apple is poised to lose a significant share of the smartphone market, if they decide to unveil iPhone 5 after September 9, and enough product in stock for sale by first week in October 2011," he says.

Sprint's Oct. 7 "Strategy Update" means ... something about iPhone 5.

Sprint at least knew enough to send out press invitations this week: for an Oct. 7 "Strategy Update," apparently to update reporters on, you know, strategy.

BoyGeniusReport's Zach Epstein admits that no one knows that Sprint execs will talk about, but he's pretty sure one topic will be 4G/LTE.

But how could any carrier have a strategy that doesn't include iPhone 5? "Sprint is also set to launch Apple's next-generation iPhone 5 handset this fall, and while we couldn't get a peep out of the carrier while we were visiting its corporate headquarters back in July, we wouldn't be surprised if Sprint is a bit more talkative in October when it comes to Apple smartphones," he writes.

Epstein's lame observation didn't satisfy the rest of the iOSsphere, which dared to draw the conclusions that he fecklessly only hinted at. "If the event timing seems familiar, it's because October 7th is the date we expect for an iPhone 5 release," writes GottaBeMobile's Josh Smith. "This date isn't a set in stone iPhone 5 release date, but the Sprint timing gives more credibility to the data and to the fact that the company will carry the iPhone 5."

It's hard to see how a "fact" can be given more credibility since it is, well, a fact. But using "the data" in place of "rumor and unfounded speculation" is a nice touch.

Verizon may let you upgrade early to iPhone 5.

That's how the ever-optimistic Smith at GottaBeMobile interpreted a post at DroidLife that doesn't mention the iPhone 5.

Kellex posted at DroidLife that he had received a Verizon email offering him an upgrade opportunity as an HTC Droid Incredible 2 user. That would possibly give him a chance to trade in the Incredible for discount pricing for either the Motorola Droid Bionic or HTC Vigor, both about-to-be-released Android phones. Normally, he wrote, he wouldn't be eligible until April 2012.

GottaBeMobile concludes that "it appears that Verizon is giving out early upgrades to long-term customers in order to tempt them to upgrade to the Motorola Droid Bionic and iPhone 5."

"This is a big deal for customers who have been eagerly waiting for the iPhone 5 or Motorola Droid Bionic, and quite a surprise," Smith writes.

It may not be quite as big as he thinks. Most of the comment thread for the original DroidLife post was taken up by a waspish argument over the site's introduction of full-page online ads.

iPhone 5 could be thinner.

Who knew that Ubergizmo trolls Greek iPhone sites for news? Or at least for leaks. Or technically "leaks," because apparently what we thought were leaks could actually be a nefarious Apple disinformation campaign. "Some are speculating Apple is purposely leaking false information in order to throw off actual leaks and what not," writes Tyler Lee.

But undeterred by this prospect, he offers "another 'leak', this time by Greek website Greek-iPhone, which shows what they're claiming to be the iPhone 5's camera module and flash."

And he includes the Greek-iPhone photos of the camera module in question. He also includes a link to a Google Translate version of the original Greek-iPhone page, though, oddly, the translation he selected is from the original Greek to Croatian. Which is not a big improvement for those of us who speak neither.

"Based on the photo alone you can tell that it looks a lot different compared to the previous leak, and supposedly it will feature more megapixels," Lee writes. "It also appears to be thinner which could possibly mean that the rumors of an even thinner iPhone 5 may be true."

Into English, Greek-iPhone is actually reporting, via Google Translate: "The handset iPhone 5 is the same shape as that of the iPhone 4 but a little thinner. The code on the part of the iPhone 4 00064 C/1144LB is that while the iPhone 5 00094 C6/11291 BB and say it is a little thinner in thickness."

It probably loses something in the translation.

Despite the icon-in-the-beta-software, iPhone 5 screen will be under 4 inches.

A short item in DigiTimes triggered a wave of iOSsphere disturbances by reporting that iPhone 5's display will remain under 4 inches, according to "sources from upstream panel suppliers." Apple will fiddle with the bezel size to make the screen seem bigger than it is.

Killian Bell, at CultOfMac, writes rather optimistically, "That also quashes those rumors that claim the fifth-generation iPhone will have a large 4-inch display."

The website also claims the back of the phone will change to metal from glass.

Doubtless speaking for many, Devinda Hardawar at VentureBeat fervently wrote that this is "one iPhone 5 rumor that we hope ends up being bunk."

As alas so many of them will when all is finally revealed.