As we prepare for Apple’s big announcement Jan. 27, rumors are swirling. Will the tablet feature applications? Will it have iTunes integrated into the software? Will it offer e-reader functionality to challenge devices like the Kindle?
At this point, we just don’t know. But that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from working overtime on speculation that the device will be the most appealing product on the market for everyone from hard-core computing experts to stay-at-home parents.
Unfortunately, the Apple tablet probably won’t be the be-all, end-all that the rumors suggest it will. Even saying Apple will release a tablet feeds the rumors. We just don’t know. But rumors aren’t anything new in the Apple ecosystem. The company is so secretive, its products are so compelling and its CEO is so dynamic that Apple has become the epicenter of rumors in the industry.
And in truth the unceasing speculation is often wrong. So as the rumor mill goes into overdrive, attempting to dredge up anything related to Apple’s tablet, it might be a good time for a reality check. Let’s take a look at why we should take all these Apple rumors with more than a single grain of salt.
1. They’re usually wrong
The first thing to know about Apple rumors is that they’re rarely entirely true. For months now, rumors have been swirling that Apple would add a touch display to the iMac. So far, the company hasn’t, even though it recently refreshed its iMac line. Another rumor that won’t go away: gaming coming to the Apple TV. So far, that device is still just a “hobby.”
2. They’re never from Apple
Apple is arguably the most secretive company in the tech space. Apple has made it its personal mission to severely penalize anyone at the company who divulges anything about an upcoming product. Consider this: The iPhone was a revolutionary device and yet, prior to its announcement, Apple was able to keep it a secret. Impressive.
3. Not even analysts know
Often, analysts will make predictions about what Apple will be doing in the near future. For the most part, analysts are speculating about products just as much as any media outlet is. Analysts do get in touch with manufacturing partners and other stakeholders to support their predictions a little better, but for the most part, they have no clue what Steve Jobs has up his sleeve until he’s ready to announce it.
4. Apple is a hardware company
Let’s not forget that Apple is first and foremost a hardware company. Earlier today, reports surfaced on the Web, claiming Apple is planning to move into car-parking assistance, of all things. Although it’s possible, the chances of that happening are probably not that great. Apple is a hardware company that builds devices for consumers. Why would it suddenly shift strategy after generating so much revenue from its current ventures?
Rumors Keep Circulating No Matter What Apple Says
5. Apple gives hints
When Apple announces a press event, it gives some hints to the media and consumers. For example, Apple’s announcement for the company’s press event next week says it plans to show off its latest “creation.” Does that mean it will be announcing the new tablet? It’s certainly plausible. But anything other than that probably isn’t. Regardless, the rumor mill continues to cook up ideas that have little or nothing to do with Apple’s hints.
6. Some are ridiculous
Sometimes, rumors will hit the wire that make those who follow Apple scratch their heads. Unfortunately, that happens more often than you would expect. Apple won’t become an online company. Steve Jobs won’t be selling Apple to the highest bidder. And although it might seem like a good idea to some, the hardware company has no plans to license its software to other vendors.
7. Hope reigns supreme
In many Apple rumors, hope reigns supreme. After the iPhone was first released, there were rumors that Apple would be adding copy-and-paste support sooner rather than later. It didn’t come for two years. Oftentimes, folks want to see specific features offered in Apple devices and they allow those to become the story. Don’t be fooled by hope.
8. Many are unsubstantiated
Following that, it’s important to realize that many rumors have no substantiation. As I mentioned above, analysts are at least talking with component partners to see what Apple has been ordering lately. Others have sources that can provide some reasoning for why the company might be following a particular strategy. But in several other cases, a person brews up a rumor and makes up a fake story that spreads across the Web.
9. They lead to disappointment
Because so many rumors are based in the hopes of those who start them, Apple’s announcements generally fail to live up to the hype. Save for the iPhone, most of Apple’s announcements over the past few years paled in comparison with the rumors that preceded them. The iMac touch screen is nowhere to be found. A full-featured iPod Nano isn’t so full-featured. And even a new iPhone with many of the features it’s lacking-a favorite rumor-has yet to be announced. Simply put, Apple can’t move as fast as the rumor mill wants it to move.
10. They never end
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about Apple rumors is that they never end. Even though they are at a boil right now, rumors will continue to hit the Web after Steve Jobs makes his big announcement. Apple is one of the most riveting companies in the tech industry. Its secrecy and the quality of its products combine to make it fantastic fodder for rumors. That won’t change any time soon. So get ready for more rumors in 2010.