Rumors, Rumors

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Date: Sunday, January 9th, 2005, 10:06
Category: Opinion

The frenzy of pre-Macworld rumors has hit an all time high! The iHome hoax, the $500 iMac, the flash based iPod, iWork, the Garage Band breakout box. Read on…………

The frenzy of pre-Macworld rumors has hit an all time high! The iHome hoax, the $500 iMac, the flash based iPod, iWork, the Garage Band breakout box. Wow.
As a follow up to my article outlining concerns about Apple and the tactics being used to deal with Think Secret, I will try to weigh in on the whole rumors and speculation phenomenon. I will say right off that I don?t know anyone with any inside information and don?t solicit that kind of information. For the longest time, I even refused to comment on rumors. I think the first time I did was when the widespread reports of the Apple optical mouse were swirling around a few years back. I thought it was a great idea and said so. I did have some concerns about commenting on something that could be a hoax, but little concern that the sources may have violated a non disclosure agreement in spreading the rumors through the Mac media.
Times have changed. More and more, these rumors are spreading through the mainstream press, especially the business press. If it concerns me every time I comment on one of these rumors, what are these outlets thinking? The PowerPage has an audience that pretty much consists of Mac Heads who know the story behind this feeding frenzy. The Wallstreet Journal and Business Week are read by investors, many of whom are not so keenly aware of the soap opera surrounding these machinations. I suppose this reflects on current attitudes towards investing, which have people speculating for short term profits and feeding market volatility.
It is very clear to me, that the sites that spread these rumors are not championing the cause of whistle blowers inside an organization with dark secrets to hide. This is rumor mongering, pure and simple. I don?t read the Star or National Enquirer, because the subject matter does not interest me. These publications push the limits of the First Amendment and can do some real harm to reputations by spreading false rumors and innuendo. It is very difficult to fight these organizations because they have pockets just as deep as the biggest celebrities they report on. Many celebs benefit from the notoriety and their press agents are quite happy to see that their clients names are spelled correctly and Apple too has benefitted in some instances when rumors have made it to the mainstream.
I do read Think Secret and Apple Insider and I suppose I should feel somewhat guilty for feeding my curiosity. I would never base an investment on this information and it does not influence my decisions to purchase Apple products. Just be aware that this site is considered by Apple to be a Rumor and Speculation site and our credentials were pulled from Macworld two years ago by IDG, presumably at Apple?s behest. I suspect that we are on that list, not so much for rumor mongering, but because Jason and the rest of us have championed the cause of Apple customers with real problems that are often not acknowledged by Apple. PowerBook hinges, dying Firewire ports, failing TiBook paint and the PowerBook 5300 in general . Apple has had a spotty record dealing with some widespread quality control problems and will often just wait for the storm to blow over. This weakness almost caused a setback for the iPod when Apple was slow to provide a solution to replacement of dead and dying batteries. One overriding concern that dogs me, is that we might be silenced in the name of ?Trade Secret? protection. By broadening the definition of trade secrets, could an internal memo acknowledging some product defect be protected? I suspect it might be covered by an employee non-disclosure agreement, but clearly it should not be prohibited from publication. By focusing attention on these quality control problems, the PowerPage has undoubtedly cost Apple a considerable amount of money in the near term. I like to think that getting the problems out in the open as quickly as possible has saved them far more in the long term by keeping precious customers satisfied. Apple’s number one problem right now is market share and they cannot afford to lose loyal customers.
Just as the tabloid press can destroy the reputation of someone and get away with it by outspending them in court, I worry that a large company can silence a small news outlet by virtue of their deep pockets. A lawsuit with little or no chance of success can be used to bankrupt a small website and ultimately silence them.

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