Waving my cane around, and beating a rumor site with it

Since it’s kind of a cliché for a blog that talks a lot about Apple to make predictions about upcoming WWDC announcements, I thought I’d instead choose another cliché and rant about Apple rumor sites.

It’s not about accuracy. As a general rule, the closer you get to the actual product announcement the more likely it is that the leaks will be genuine, and that principle is—again, generally—commutable. Rumors about new Mac models that come out a week before they’re announced have a higher success rate than rumors about a new iThing surfacing four or five months before they come out. Statistically speaking, whatever 9to5Mac and AppleInsider and MacBullshit are publishing about WWDC next week has a higher chance of being correct than what they published last month about the next iPhone. Even if the stuff they’re being tipped off to now is real, if the next iPhone isn’t due until September it’s not on a production line yet.

Instead, it’s about how damn dispiriting this all is. At this point, we “know” just about everything that Apple’s supposedly going to announce in a few days. This happens with such regularity that the success of an Apple product announcement event—which in the eyes of the media is all WWDC is, rather than, you know, a developers’ conference—is about how well the announced products matched up to the rumored ones. If Apple does not introduce a 13″ MacBook Air with a 2880×1800 LCD panel and refresh essentially their entire line of computers all at once (something I don’t believe they’ve ever done before), we’ll be reading dozens of articles about what a crushing disappointment the event was even if Tim Cook demonstrates an upcoming iOS 6 teleportation feature by beaming Scott Forstall from his office in Cupertino onto the Moscone Center stage. (“While iTeleport looks like a promising feature, the lack of retina display iMacs is seen a major failure. Trusted sources pulled their heads out of their asses long enough to confirm that this would never have happened if Steve Jobs was still alive. In entirely unrelated news, Samsung announced the new Galaxy XII with sTeleport will be available by year’s end.”)

And while I find the “Apple is a cult” stereotype to be increasingly headache-inducing, the absolute best ammunition that critics have to support that is the breathlessly-reported Apple Kreminology that’s become the stock in trade of a dozen or more web sites. The stocks of widgets at a company that supplies Apple are low! The order times for iPod nanos are longer than usual! Apple filed for a patent on the triangle! What does it all mean? (Trusted sources pulled their heads out of their asses long enough to confirm…)

There’s nothing to be done about it, I know. Crazy rumors bring in the page views. People publish this because people read this. Apparently, we all want to know whether we should be prepared to feel bad because the Air we bought last year only has 1440×900 resolution. (A mere 128 dpi! The shame!) And Apple still maintains a fair amount of secrecy, despite the rumor sites’ best efforts—when push comes to shove we don’t know what any of those 42 “TBA” sessions at WWDC next week are really about yet, and there’s not a lot in the air about what iOS 6 will have in it. A lot about what we’d like to have in it, but that’s not the same thing.

Even so, I miss the days not so very long ago before this had become a cottage industry, when rumors were broader (could Apple really be about to introduce a phone? That’s crazy!) and less of the noise in the Apple ecosystem was being proclaimed as signal. Somehow, being a cult member was a little more fun when the executives could get on stage and introduce things without us having checklists in hand, ready to be disappointed if they only introduced 11 of the 16 things we’d been “promised.”

  1. chipotle posted this