It would have been a great story, too; Apple's new strategic direction is to make a huge, splashy deal in the process of not announcing anything very interesting.
Then customers went and bought 4 million of them.
I think the joke wasn't the one Apple pulled calling that press conference; I don't think the joke was the amount of hypey coverage of the new Not-the-iPhone-5 was the joke either.
I think the joke lies somewhere in the number of iPhones people bought so quickly and in such numbers it's clear most buyers didn't care if the phone itself was good or baaaaad. They just want the unique advantages of owning the newest iPhone. Just like everyone else.