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A new Apple rumor, and the reason we're writing about it

iPhone news tidbit of the week: the 3G version will be announced at a Steve Jobs keynote speech June 9. Sounds a lot like last week's tidbit, but that's OK.

Executives must dream of the free publicity Apple's Steve Jobs enjoys when his fandom is anticipating a new product.

Gizmodo is reporting Tuesday that someone "very, very close" to the 3G iPhone launch has confirmed that Apple will unveil the new iPhone during the June 9 keynote address at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference at San Francisco's Moscone Center. The phone should be available right after the keynote, Gizmodo reports. This is pretty much what an analyst report released last week from from Piper Jaffray said was going to happen.

Have you read anything about this gizmo?

As you can tell by this page on Google News, the 3G iPhone is easily the most hotly anticipated way to spend disposable income on a gadget since the original iPhone was released last summer.

Reporters, of course, love to grouse about product rumors, even as we dutifully write about them. (Far be it for us to deny the public the rumor du jour!) But we do it for a reason beyond the obvious page view benefits of intense Apple coverage: It's interesting.

In an era of me-too Web applications and shelves full of PCs and cell phones barely distinguishable from one another, Apple still manages to do something different. Love them or hate them, they're innovators.

As my colleague Tom Krazit wrote last summer on the morning of the iPhone launch: "There's an intense interest in anything related to Apple among the technology community. Whether people come to praise it or damn it, Apple evokes a passion rarely found in other sectors of the business world...Apple had to be taken seriously because of how the iPod changed the way people listened to music. The company earned that sort of credibility the old-fashioned way; it wasn't bestowed on them by a fawning press or rabid fanboys (for the most part)."

A year later, what Tom wrote is more true than ever. Yes, Apple gets lots of free publicity. In fact, Harvard Business School professor David Yoffie estimated last yearthat the iPhone generated $400 million in free publicity for Apple. A little embarrassing for those of us in the news business? Sure. But as reporters covering the technology industry, we're as curious as you about what Jobs has up his sleeve.

So we'll stop writing about it when you stop reading about it and Apple stops producing interesting stuff--none of which anyone expects to happen anytime soon.