4/24/08
7:21 am

The Three Origins of Apple Rumors

It’s no big revelation that Mac fans love rumors. There are several sites dedicated to Apple rumors that get more traffic than sites dedicate to actual Apple news. I guess we just like to daydream about the computers and gadgets in our near future.
But this obsession with rumors makes it easy for lots of bad information to get out there. How many Apple rumors in the past 10 years have turned out to be slightly off, or completely wrong? There are several origins to Apple rumors.
First, there is the old whisper-down-the-lane phenomenon. Person A, at an event, with no real facts, speculates that Apple will come out with a touch screen Mac. Wouldn’t that be neat? Person B is listening to them, then repeats this to person C. Person C assumes that person B has heard this from a good source, and so starts spreading the rumor.
A second source of Apple rumors is: thin air. I believe there are people out there purposely starting rumors they know not to be true. All you need to do is come up with a reasonable rumor that many people want to see come true. In many cases, artists create fake images or videos to support a rumor. Fortunately, these are easier to call out as fakes than a single bit of information.
I don’t think it is the rumor sites that are behind these false rumors. In fact, they are the victims.
A third source of Apple rumors is our misunderstanding of how Apple works. For instance, every time they file a patent, we assume it will become a product. A company like Apple is researching all sorts of things, and they are sure to patent everything they think is patentable. But it certainly doesn’t mean that they will ever build it.
Also, rumor pundits frequently forget that Apple sometimes announces products way ahead of time, like the iPhone. So a rumor that product X will be coming out in August, may actually be somewhat correct, except that product X will be announced in August, but not released until December.
Of course these three sources are for false or misleading Apple rumors. A fourth source exists: actual facts. These are the rumors that come true. A lot of times this comes from Apple employees or the employees of stores that resell Apple products. For instance, a new iPod would appear on a Best Buy computer system the day before release. Unless it is that specific, it is usually only partially correct. For instance, just before the iPhone release, there were a lot of rumors about the iPhone. All were right in that Jobs did announce an iPhone at MacWorld, but no one got the specifics right.
So the next time you hear a juicy rumor about Apple, remember these potential sources and don’t believe everything you read.
Note: We actually round up and link to rumor stories at our MacMost Apple Rumors page. Here you can quickly see who is writing about each rumor and what they are saying.