Adventures In Planned Corporate Leaks And Espionage, HTC Mystery Phone Edition

Psst. Wanna know a secret? Most of the blurrycam pics and backroom shots are really planned leaks. They’re not taken by some reader loyal to specific blog that’s willing to risk his job just to pass on something cool. No, most are taken by some random PR flack whose manager then decides what outlet gets the pics and when. Think of it as corporate “astroturfing.” Everyone does it.

Most of these leaks are even planned as part of a given product’s marketing strategy nowadays as marketers know us blogs will help their cause along. Even a little pic of an unannounced BlackBerry spreads around fan sites quicker than the online celebrity tabloids can report the latest juicy scandal. So generally a few months prior to the official announcement, a blurrycam pic of a mildly hot device will appear in the inbox of some niche website, who will quickly watermark the pic as their own and post it. Then the medium to large blogs pick up on it, followed by the news aggregators, who will keep the story alive for weeks.

That’s how it’s supposed to work. But HTC clearly slept through the class when all this was explained. You see, us, along with several other sites all got slightly different pics of the same device tonight. They are all like pieces of a puzzle with the final picture making some random HTC cell phone instead of a unicorn prancing over a river of rainbows — or a mystery device from Microsoft, who tried this technique when promoting the Arc Touch Mouse.

Let’s begin with our pics, which as per the rules of engagement listed above, are watermarked with our logos.

Fancy, eh? A rounded corner that looks a lot like the G2 and then a skewed pic of the microSDHC slot.

Engadget got the same one as we did, as well as one showing the Micro USB port.

SlashGear got the screen one too, but also got a pic showing the naked backside.

AndroidCentral got one of the power button. Exciting stuff.

Gizmodo got in on the fun too: the main corner pic plus one of the lens and dual flashes. Notice they didn’t play by the rules and watermark their pics. Model bloggers right there.

So what is this thing? Gizmodo points to a BGR post from August 27th as the device in question, which seems to fit the leak timeline. The device got a good amount of press back then, but now that we’re nearing CES 2011 when it’s probably going to be released, HTC needed to quickly drum up some coverage and so released the puzzle pieces above. Classy, aren’t they?

And yes, I do see the irony of this post.