The Apple rumor economy has always been fascinating. More so than any other company, people obsess over little tidbits of information which may be true, may be half true, may be half false, or may be totally made up. And despite pretty much no one outside of the company ever knowing anything concrete, the rumors get talked about to death.
I probably do this as much as anyone. Apple is arguably the most important and inarguably the most valuable tech company right now. Speculation is fun, and can even be thought-provoking. But today things got taken to a whole new level.
This morning saw not one, but two reports come out that looked pretty bad for Apple. One, first published by Bloomberg, stated that the new iPad may be delayed until June. The second, published by Business Insider, stated that the new iPhone may be delayed until September. Both reports represented awful news for Apple since everyone was assuming the iPad 2 would be on the same schedule as last year: a March/April launch. Likewise, everyone was assuming that the iPhone 5 would be released in the regular June/July timeframe.
And considering that Apple CEO Steve Jobs is out on medical leave, some undoubtedly would interpret this as Apple’s normally well-oiled machine starting to slip. Sure enough, the stock started to tank based on the reports.
The only problem? Neither of these reports are true.
Frankly, it’s a little surprising that anyone bought them in the first place. Both stories were based on statements from analysts. Bloomberg’s story came by way of Vincent Chen and Alison Chen, analysts at Yuanta Securities. Business Insider’s info came by way of FBR Capital Markets analyst Craig Berger. As anyone who has covered Apple news for any extended period of time will know: you never trust an analyst when it comes to Apple information. Never.
Let’s say the top tier Apple bloggers bat around .500 with regard to Apple rumors — Apple analysts are probably batting .050. Maybe less. Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s far less. Their “checks” and “reports” are usually nothing more that complete and utter crap. If you simply said the opposite of what Apple “professional” analysts said every single time they said anything, you’d look like a genius. Bloomberg and Business Insider should know better.
But increasingly, the game now goes both ways.
When the rumors today started to spread and the stock started to tank, word started coming out that these rumors were simply not true. Shortly thereafter, we got the news that in fact, Apple would be holding an event to unveil the iPad 2 next week. I’ll let you put two and two together about where that very timely and very accurate information came from.
If you’ve been following Apple news closely over the past several weeks, you’ll notice several counter-rumors run by a couple of large publications that directly debunk other rumors.
Increasingly, the situation is now that we have weak rumors followed by strong counter-rumors. And, to be clear, these counter-rumors aren’t so much “rumors” as information given by the ever-present but nowhere to be found “people familiar with the matter”. Actually, I know exactly where to find them.
We’re watching the Apple rumor economy change before our very eyes. But it makes sense. There’s simply too much at stake for too many people when you’re talking about the most valuable tech company on the planet.