It seems pretty clear to me that people have projected Apple-brand features onto a non-existent phone in much the same way, and are assuming that it will be sleek, sexy, and eminently usable. This represents an opportunity for Apple, which probably shouldn't be skipped--if Apple customers want an Apple phone that badly, Apple should probably go ahead and build one, even if they aren't currently doing so.
This is a double-edged sword, of course. On the one hand, Apple could probably stomp their way into a significant share of the market with any product release, particularly if it delivered on the expected features. Indeed, it seems that there is a lot of pent up frustration with cell phones if this many people are wishing for Apple to ride in and save them with a killer phone. On the other hand, this level of expectation is hard to satisfy, and anything short of miraculous may end up being a disappointment. But Apple fans are notorious cheerleaders, so even if the phones only had one button and tended to explode after four hours of continued use, there would still be fans out there praising its curves and colors.
On a larger level, this phenomenon seems to suggest that Apple's customers want them to become a general electronics company, instead of being a PC company. It will be interesting to see if Apple decides to go where their customers want.