While the code says "IMEI," which stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity, it seems that the actual IMEI is not transmitted. Using a sniffer, Heise says they were able to get the information that the applications are actually sending. The strings aren't the same as the test iPhone's IMEI and, in fact, each application sends its own unique code.
According to further testing by Rene at blog docpool, these IDs are identical in all iPhones he has tried. The most plausible explanation: the codes could be just application identifiers. Rumor smashed. Mystery solved. Time to get a bourbon at Big Joe's.
So it seems as if the IDs are all the same, so the iPhone isn't really transmitting IMEIs, it's just labeling some form of code as such. It's still not clear what Apple is doing with this data -- or if this process actually compromises users' privacy. But so far, it looks like it doesn't violate privacy.
I guess that ends that. Or does it? What do you think? Is Apple actually collecting user-specific information from iPhone users? Or is this just all just paranoia?