iThings Considered

Apple & Rumor Sites: A Bad Mix?

Jake Sargent - 2001.02.23

I'm not one to say what Steve Jobs' tastes are or what kind of person he is likely to like or dislike (that can be left for his publicist). However, I can tell you that Steve Jobs and Kasper Jade, Senior Editor of AppleInsider, could never be friends. Why? Because Steve Jobs is the most uptight CEO when it comes to company secrets and unannounced products - and that's just the kind of dirt that Kasper likes to publish on Apple Insider.

So why is it that a single Mac rumor site can serve over 4.5 million page views per month, but when you do a search for "PC rumors" on Yahoo, the most recent thing is hush-hush talk of Microsoft acquiring Bungie? Because Apple likes to keep discussions about future products at a minimum.

If you tell a toddler not to do something, he'll do it. Why? Because he's interested in what will happen if he does. It's the same thing with Macs and rumors. If Apple didn't insist on taking such drastic measures to make sure the public doesn't know about its future products, Mac users might not be as interested (there's room for debate here).

On the other hand, making sure the public doesn't know about future products before they are announced is a rather good strategy. For example, if everyone knew that new iMacs were going to be announced last Macworld NY (July '00), Apple would never be able to clear out its inventory, because all of the prospective iMac buyers would be waiting for the new iMac.

In a way, rumors have become an essential part of being a Mac addict. It keeps us hooked to the latest happenings in Cupertino, and it makes the buildup to each Macworld Expo or Apple event at least five times larger than any PC trade show - perhaps that's why you have to arrive at a Steve Jobs keynote three hours before it starts to get a good seat.

If Apple is so careful about making sure company secrets are not released to the public, how do rumor sites get information on upcoming Apple products? Do rebellious Apple employees anonymously submit information to rumor sites? Or is information submitted by sneaky Mac users who are trying to fool the Mac community into believing them? And is the information that these rumor sites provide valid?

Ben Apple, of The Mac Junkie, once tried fooling MacOS Rumors by sending in a fake report of an upcoming Apple product. It was published the following day. Sure, rumor sites are good fun, but can't be relied upon for completely accurate information.

It's a no-win situation when it comes to Apple and rumors. Apple can either not be so uptight about the whole thing and hope that it's not a big deal, or they can be uptight about the whole thing and have to sue every rumor site that hurts its marketing strategy. The best solution probably lies between these two options.

Somehow, though, I get the feeling that Apple won't be loosening up anytime soon.

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