• Are Rumor Sites Losing Their Touch?

    April 9th, 2005

    If you can believe what you’ve been reading in recent days, Apple has already declared the Golden Master for Tiger, meaning the product is now being manufactured and readied for delivery to your favorite Mac retailer. In addition, the stories have it that Apple would announce the shipping date on April 1st, and was poised to have the product available in mid-April.

    Did I say April 1st?

    But it’s not just rumor sites. Even more respectable publications, such as eWeek, have been proclaiming the imminent release of Tiger, with information on its development status that do not differ in any material way from the rumor reports.

    Well, I haven’t a clue as to whether development of 10.4 is done or not, but it’s clear the April 1st claim was nothing more than an April Fool’s joke, or maybe those rumor sites were being fed disinformation to hurt their credibility. Disinformation, in case you’re wondering, is government parlance providing incorrect information for one reason or another. In addition, the only Apple development confirmed for next week, at least so far, is it’s announcement of financial results for the last quarter on April 13th. Moreover, it’s just not logical to believe that announce that Apple will announce the shipping date for its new operating system just four or five days in advance.

    Now it’s always possible that the official announcement is coming any day now. But I begin to wonder if the luster of the Mac rumor sites has worn off. Maybe it’s the lawsuit effect, or perhaps more and more of those anonymous sources have come to realize they are swimming in quicksand, and it’s a good idea to keep their mouths shut. Maybe they finally got around to reading the fine print on those confidentiality agreements.

    It’s not that I do not expect some announcement about Tiger’s status shortly. But right now, Apple isn’t taking orders, and still lists 10.4 as “Arriving the first half of 2005.”

    Of course, I can see the opportunity for a lame excuse of one sort or another. Maybe Apple discovered a last-minute glitch in Tiger and stopped the presses as it were to give it a little more development time. It’s not as if there’s a rush to bring the product to market in April. After all, there’s still have plenty of time to fulfill the promise of getting it out before July 1st, right? Ah, excuses, excuses!

    Understand that the previous paragraph may be rendered somewhat obsolete any time now, possibly before you read it, and frankly it doesn’t really matter. My crystal ball hasn’t worked in years, and I gave up on ouija boards decades ago, but that’s another story. Still, I have to wonder if the proprietors of Mac rumor sites are becoming just a bit more cautious in what they publish. After all, why risk Apple’s legal wrath all over again, with the previous cases still undecided?

    Still, I don’t expect the rumor sites to go away, not while they are basking in the glow of their 15 minutes of fame. Who would have guessed, just a few months ago, that these sites would get worldwide attention in the mainstream press? Did Apple expect things to turn out that way?

    Just to bring you up to date, in case you haven’t been keeping in touch with these columns, I have never disputed Apple’s right to protect its trade secrets. Nor do I dispute the right of rumor sites to publish speculation, informed or otherwise, about upcoming Apple products. We get into a gray area when information from documents clearly labeled as “Confidential” are published without alteration, not even an editorial comment. That’s clearly a bit much, and the line has to be drawn.

    In saying that, the more I think about it, the more I believe that a court test had to come, and maybe it’s the right time to get it over with. That way, the boundaries can be set once and for all, or until the next case and and/or a new judge turns things around in a totally unexpected direction. You can’t, after all, predict what the courts might decide on a specific issue; they have a habit of surprising us, for better or worse.

    But I don’t think it was politically correct to go after teenagers in its unending quest to stop the leaks. While Apple might prevail in the end, it comes across as a bully, even though the defendants are getting free legal help. After all, so-called Mac fan sites have remained loyal to Apple through good and bad times. There are probably a lot of people from the entertainment and political worlds who would just love to get that sustained level of attention over two decades and then some.

    Memo to Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus: You are no longer the only “Dr. Mac” on the planet. The other day, I paid a visit to another “Dr. Mac,” a dentist from Scottsdale, Arizona, for an emergency visit. This particular Dr. Mac adopted the moniker because his real name, William A. MacNaughton IV, doesn’t fall trippingly from the tongue.

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