Sudden Impact: Apple’s Great Asteroid Hoax

If you’ve been following the legal ruckus surrounding Apple’s “Asteroid leak” case, you know what happened: Someone leaked details of Asteroid, a breakout box for use with GarageBand, and some websites published the info. Apple then subpoenaed their email records to discover the identity of the leaker, and the websites went to court to protect their journalistic integrity.

The Rumor Mill

Whether you think rumor mongers have journalistic integrity or not (include me among them if you wish), the courts sided with them for two reasons: Apple hadn’t exhausted their options before issuing the subpoena, and the courts have ruled that these “reporters” are journalists.

Red Flags

All of that is fine and legally proper, but there’s a fact that everyone seems to be overlooking – after over two years, Apple hasn’t released a breakout box for use with GarageBand.

purported Asteroid mockupThe company has transitioned its Macs to Intel CPUs, introduced a plethora of new iPods, and even created a speaker system for the iPod, yet they haven’t released Asteroid.

Sound suspicious? It should. If this was an important project, you’d think Apple would have gone ahead with it even after the “trade secret” of its existence was made known. You’d think they would have rushed to market to take advantage of the buzz.

purported asteroid mockupIf Asteroid were a viable product, you’d think Apple would at the very least want to get it out the door before a competitor – now fully aware for Apple’s planned GarageBand breakout box – would beat them to the punch.

Red Herring

Since it hasn’t happened, it’s time to reveal the truth: Apple never intended to release “Asteroid” to market.

Apple used to have a decent relationship with rumor mongers, such as Mac the Knife, and use them to send up trial balloons. Then Steve Jobs came back, and the company developed a real disdain for rumors.

What if, rather than creating Asteroid as a real product, the aim of the Asteroid Project was to destroy the rumor sites? All Apple would have to do is assign a few people to developing a semi-viable product be sure to include a “mole” on the team, and have this individual deliberately leak project information to the sites Apple wanted to put out of business.

eMagic breakout boxHow would that scenario be any different from the one reported over the past two years?

After all, Apple wouldn’t have to make any attempt to determine the identity of the leaker if it were a plant. All they’d have to do is prove that Apple Insider, PowerPage, and the rest had received their information from this individual – and that’s why they needed to subpoena email records.

I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but the scenario of Apple using Trade Secret law, a dummy project, and its own mole to take out the rumor sites is every bit as feasible as Asteroid being important enough for Apple to sue over the leaks yet unimportant enough that the product never see the light of day.

Okay, who am I kidding? It’s more likely.

And it did hit these sites like an asteroid, which explains the name of the project.

– Anne Onymus


Further Reading

Pretty exciting – we got thoughtful coverage from 3 other sites. Pretty good for made up nonsense!

  • Asteroid a Hoax?, Dan Lurie, TUAW, 2006.06.10. “…LowEndMac is hypothesizing that the entire Asteroid fiasco was all part of an evil Apple plan to quash rumor sites. The assumption is based on the fact that two years after the Asteroid leak, Apple still hasn’t released a GarageBand breakout box.”
  • LowEndMac: The Great Asteroid Hoax?, Ian Betteridge, Technovia, 2006.06.11. “The problem with conspiracy theories – even ones intended as jokes – is that people often believe them.”
  • Asteroid Interface for GarageBand a Hoax All Along?, iCompositions, 2006.06.18. “Last week LowEndMac published an article proposing that the Apple lawsuits were never about Asteroid and that there was never even a real Asteroid project. Rather, Apple invented a relatively inconsequential product, leaked it to the rumor sites, and waited for them to post the information they had received.”

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