Perhaps they should put Steve Wozniak in charge of Apple’s public relations. At the least the guy has a sense of humour.

Where the official Apple ends up getting a nasty slicing on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show after taking Gizmodo’s iPhone 4G story rather too seriously, the great Wozniak takes a very different tack.

Let’s turn the whole thing into a joke. You can see the Wozniak t-shirt take on the lost iPhone - a sort of ironic poem in Fruit of the loom cotton - here.

Has Apple gone mad in pursuing a journalist (although there is some Joseph Hellerish debate as to whether a blogger is a real journalist in the first place) over his publication of details of the next iPhone? Isn’t that good publicity anyway?

This is the strange paradox of Apple in the age of the iPhone. The company devotes huge amounts of effort to building expectations and to turning whatever its engineers and Jonathan Ive can come up with into events in themselves. I’ve heard it described as akin to religious revelations but I suspect the atmosphere they want to create is closer to a first date with some weird promise of sex later on.

The company hypes everything to the heavens but recoils when anyone else gets in on this deal. Apple creates the hunger for details of a device that is really just a fancy smartphone and then gets severely annoyed when people take this to its logical conclusion by stalking the next version.

Compare and contrast with Google, which gets annoyed about big, important things, at least in public, such as governments hacking its systems to expose the names of dissidents. However seriously you take this stance, this is stuff that can cost lives.

Or Microsoft. It is almost inconceivable that Microsoft would ask police to visit the house of a journalist - or and end user - in order to send a message to the press about product leaks. Even the ebullient Steve Ballmer can probably see the silliness of taking such a hard-line stance.

Apple can probably point about that neither Google nor Microsoft have much hanging on specific devices such as the iPhone, and would be robust if their intellectual property or source code was infringed in anyway, undoubtedly true.

It’s become an established truth that the return of Steve Jobs to Apple in 1997 rejuvenated the company, changing it back into the successful and strident force in tech it had been in the glory days of the 1980s. That might be true in a commercial sense, but he rejoined a company that still had a reputation as controlling, uptight, fixatedly paranoid, not only about anyone who wasn’t one of ‘us, but about even those were. Yes, it is like religion in a way.

The only person who wouldn’t want to get their hands on the next iPhone is someone who couldn’t care less what it looks like. That is the affliction of almost every other company out there. Honestly, most people couldn’t care less.

I have a sneaking suspicion Apple might one day look back on this as a problem they would kill for.