Thursday, August 12, 2021

Breakdown of Apple Rumors: Love Them But Trust Lacking

Rumors are a double or even triple edge sword. I do not traffic in rumors about Apple unless I am very sure a product, service, or announcement is very certain.  While, I enjoy reading about them on a near daily basis, they are mostly just that, rumors.  A lot of rumors and supposed leaks, well, they are wishful thinkings by fans, misinterpretations of the facts on the grounds, and misrepresentations of Apple’s and its competitors’ intentions.  

Rumors are not just for fans.  The effects of rumors and leaks are wide and impact buying decisions, development decisions, and, of course, financial matters as well.  If you are the CEO of a competing company and you just read that Apple is about the change up its iPhone lineup with a new feature, it would impact your own development to a certain extent.  And with Apple moving slowly into additional markets, anything about Apple on fan sites or Twitter is going to make waves in the media, boardrooms, and R&D labs.

When Apple’s own TV streaming plans started to become more concrete, its pricing had a great impact on a lot of its competitors who also happen to be partners in the iTunes Store.  At $5 a month, it was impactful even if Apple has yet to enter the market.  It likely had an effect on pricing of competing services, development budgets for content, and deals studios throughout Hollywood were making given Apple's very, very deep pocket.

Then there are the hardware developments that form the backbone of Apple - iPhones, iPads, and computers.  Apple’s M1 chip and shift away from Intel had been rumors for years and it finally happened in 2020 with M1 MacBooks and Mac mini.  For years, competitors both in the smartphone market and chip markets know what Apple is capable of and likely have had time to come up with their own answers. And yet, when Apple finally made the move, it seemed that much of the industries were caught off guard. Since the witnessing the speed and efficiency of the M1 in real world operations and rumors of the next generation M chips from Apple has now spurred a new urgent at Qualcomm, Samsung, AMD, and Intel. The urgency has increased given rumored upgrades that apple has planned.  

Now, there are different types of Apple rumors.  If you're new to this, please bare with me.  It's worth the read.  There are rumors and then there are "rumors":

  • Leaks.  Leaks happen because someone at Apple who is mostly very excited about what Apple is working on and can't help themselves and want to share it with the work.  These types of leaks go out to journalists, highly regarded Twitter users or bloggers.  

Then there are leaks from the floor.  By floor, I mean from the factories themselves, specifically, factories where Apple products are being produced.  I don't know how much these workers make but I figure it's very labor that is intensive and repetitive.  In other words, mind numbing.  So, maybe one of these workers will sneak out plans or even a mold of an unreleased iPhone and sell them to journalists or factories that might need to use these molds to make cases and it gets leaked onto Weibo (this is China's heavily monitored social network) or Twitter.  As far as reliability, surprisingly, it is very high in recent memories.  In the past, it was very spotty.

  • Sources inside Apple.  Apple plays the rumors game as well.  From time to time, a newspaper like the Wall Street Journal will have a private chat with someone at Apple.  The messages are very well crafted. Apple has a message to get across and it is almost never about an unreleased product.  Apple might wish to convey where the company is headed or wish to test the water and gauge the public's reaction.  As far as reliability, the source is Apple itself.  It shows what Apple's thinking for what it is worth.
  • Journalists with connections.  Journalists in Asia with sources at various companies that either produce and manufacture components for Apple could get a peak at the latest component that Apple is likely to use.  Again, these are Asian sources providing information to Asian publications.  So, you would think they're very accurate.  Personally, I would not put any money on them.  For whatever reason, they may have certain facts about what these companies are doing but their interpretations of the facts are questionable. 
  • Wishful thinking.  That's me here.  Fans who want to see Apple make something or add a feature to the iPhone or iPad.  And to this day, you know that it's what I want from Apple.  I have never dressed this up as something other than that.  Others have turned these wishful thinking into "rumors".  So, it is very unreliable.  Why do that?  I have no idea.  Maybe it's clickbait.  Maybe it's "if I call it a rumor, it might actually happen".  There are not as many of this type of rumor as before.  You still see it pop up once in a while.  I think the reason is that Apple news sites or blogs are a lot more mature than it was like ten years ago.  Furthermore, Apple products on the market are very mature and there is really little room left for "wishful thinking" features.  

There are two major unreleased Apple products where rumors that we read about border on wishing thinking.  One is the rumored Apple Car.  It does seem like Apple is closer than ever to producing a car with an established auto company but Apple can still pull back and release something on a much smaller scale.  Until Apple rolls out a car during an event, everything is highly speculative.

The other is augmented reality glasses.  There is something to this rumor since Tim Cook himself has mentioned how Apple believe this is the next big thing and the iPhone cameras already play a big role.  Rumors about Apple Glasses are mostly speculations from what Apple actually want to do with it to whether the glasses are really goggles.

  • Analysts.  There is no shortage of analysts from financial companies that cover Apple.  There are cheerleader types.  To them, Apple can do no wrong. These analysts are paid a lot of money but I am unwilling to gauge my Apple product buying timeline on what they say.  A lot of time, they try to provide support Apple's stock prices by suggesting where Apple can continue to expand and make money.  They like talking about Apple's car plan (I am willing to bet they know squat about it) and iPhone upgrade super cycles.

There are a couple of analysts who have good track records with "check" in Asia about Apple's dealing.  You can corroborate their rumors with those from bloggers. If they both agree, then the rumors generally are accurate. 

  • Time-based rumors. Articles that dealt in rumors about Apple events start to get posted at around the same time every year.  Apple's spring event (Apple sometimes skip it), the World Wide Developer Conference in June, and Apple's iPhone and/or Mac event in September.  These articles will speculate when Apple will hold the event.  This is sometimes confirmed for debunked by bloggers.  Accurate?  Sure. Sometimes, Apple has more than one event in the fall for products they want to refresh for the Holidays.  If Apple releases only the iPhone along with say the Mac but not the iPad, then rumors will start to fly that Apple will plan another late October or early November event to introduce the iPad.  Other than the iPhone that is released like clockwork, other products like the Apple TV, Macs, or iPads are released when Apple is ready.  
Apple fans can look to all the sources above for their fill of Apple news.  And by news, I mean rumors or speculations.  There is a little of everything for everyone - Wall Street guys, mobile warriors, and dedicated Apple fans.  The thing is that these rumors are fun to read about but I would not based my purchases based on a rumor I read.  Other than that I can get my hands on a shiny new iPhone late September every year, if I need a new MacBook or iPad now, I need to go into the Apple store or Apple's website to make my purchase even if there is a rumor suggest something new will are out in two months.  I simply cannot wait two months when I need to use it now.

Apple tidbits, news, and rumors is an industry all its own.  It's fun, informative, and a time killer.  I visit Apple blog sites on a daily basis.  Older now, I do not consume as much rumors as I used to.  But when I do, it's very exciting.  So, I hope this breakdown of Apple rumors help new readers.  

Note:  I've avoided mentioning specific bloggers, publications, or sources where I read Apple rumors. Like I said above, I enjoy reading them but I do want to help spread them.  

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