In hilarious practical joke, Apple assembles world's media to not announce iPhone 5

Wall Street temporarily unamused as next-gen Apple smartphone fails to appear

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C'mon, Wall Street, where's your sense of humor?

Shares of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) sank Tuesday after the company unveiled an upgraded iPhone 4 before the world's tech press, but confounded observers by not announcing the highly anticipated next-gen iPhone 5.

Apple's stock fell as much as 5.4% to 354.24 around 3 p.m., shortly after the Apple event ended around 2:45 p.m., before rallying to close at 372.50, down 0.6%. But shares had slipped into the red as early as 1 p.m., perhaps because it was beginning to dawn on investors live-tracking the event that all they were going to get was the iPhone 4S and a voice-activated feature called Siri.

Not that the iPhone 4S -- the first iPhone to be sold by Sprint Nextel -- isn't significant. It is, especially for Sprint, which is betting its future on Apple's smartphone. (The iPhone 4S also will be carried by Verizon and AT&T, which already sell Apple phones.) The new 3G smartphone features a better camera, improved hardware and can be used anywhere around the globe.

Still, the world was expecting the grand unveiling of the iPhone 5, which has been the source of rumors and intense speculation for most of this year. Apple fanboy parents have been naming their newborns iPhone 5!*

Kudos to Apple CEO Tim Cook for pulling a fast one. I didn't see the beginning (or, actually, any) of the event, but it would have been funny if Cook ambled out on stage, looked out in shock at the media audience, and said, "What are you people doing here?"

(Tim, I'm available for scripting work for future Apple events.)

In the meantime, investors looking for a bargain might want to consider Apple, which is down 12% from its all-time high of 422.60 set on Sept. 20.

Because, you know, the iPhone 5 is coming someday. Soon, probably. And when it does, it's going to be big.

* Made up for dramatic effect.

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