By The Time It Got To The Other End Of The Room:
Recent Apple lawsuits concerning leaks of information on the internet prompted this editorial. I have to admit, I like to read www.macrumors.com. A lot of intelligent people post there and a lot of inquisitive people ask great questions there as well. That said, it is my opinion that rumor sites sometimes HURT Apple. They most certainly have effects on Apple's retail prices. These lawyers and web site combers cost big bucks. I would say the MAIN focus of Apple's attorneys are rumor sites.
Here is a link to a previous lawsuit about rumormongering in the Apple Community
Another reason I started this site was because I wanted to alert buyers and sellers to some common pitfalls within the Mac Community. Pitfalls, that if we all avoid, give us more time and more energy, also to mention; money saved.
Mac Rumor sites are often a hot topic around this time of year. Several of the better known sites: MacOSRumors, MacRumors, Think Secret and AppleInsider come out with their predictions. Often they summarize what they have been saying for the past few months. During the times, just before Expos - Apple sales almost fall flat. Last January (2003) expectations were SO HIGH for new things to come from Apple, that it was reported, after, as a major disappointment to keynote attendees.
This expo is being reported in a simailar fashion. Expectations were for a new device from Apple. There were high expectations for a new line of speedbumped G5's. Some rumor sites even had people expecting a surprise G5 PowerBook release.
I admit that I read a certain Apple rumor site every day. Sometimes, I read it several times a day. The reason; out of all the rumors sites, it's the only one with a conscious. It's the only rumor site that regularly reminds readers that they should
never put off a purchase, take most rumors with a grain of salt, and also does a rumor rating. Before and after a "big rumor period" MacRumors will give a breakdown of who was right and who was wrong.
Apparently, Apple rumormongering is a big business. It's one of most hit topics on Google around expos. Apple advertisers pay high dollar to be featured on rumor sites. Personally, I avoid any retailer that advertises on a rumor site; OTHER than those promoted on MacRumors. Still; they tend to overlap.
One of the biggest fiascos in the Mac Rumor Community is the site; SpyMac. In the the summer of 2001, SpyMac perpetrated an elaborate hoax - "An Apple PDA: iWalk". The "iWalk" was a pure fabrication as a publicity stunt. Although, the whole time, and still to this day, it isn't refuted it was a hoax. Another interesting point about this site; they have very rude, very obnoxious moderators. These moderators troll the web and look for any post that has a disagreement with SpyMac; then turn any topic, in a forum; off topic.
SpyMac also claims that they are now a Mac User Group. To my knowledge; a Mac Users group can not participate in the subject of rumors; at least publicly. In November 2003, several articles popped up on SpyMac, that were made by moderators, talking of rumored Griffin Technology accessories. When confronted about the issue; SpyMac claims that any
post by a moderator, or in its forums, do not make it a Rumors Site. Well, if that doesn't; what about the name?? (hello....it's SpyMac)
One thing is for certain. The webmasters behind all the Mac Rumors sites know what their audience wants. They also are very talented web programmers. SpyMac, in particular, is one of the most elaboarate sites within the whole Mac Web Community. The look and feel of that site makes it seem credible for just about anything they could publish. I don't see how anyone could trust their information with this site after the "iWalk" fiasco. (In order to participate in the "SpyMac Network"; you have to register. )
Before the old JackWhispers site was taken down, I had posted a quote in the quotes section:
"The shiniest used car in the used car parking lot, is usually; the lemon"
That quote is the sentiment of this website conveyed perfectly. I don't claim to have a pretty site here. It isn't layed out optimally. Some parts aren't written well. Over time I hope to correct that. But, rumors sites lure you in with flashy graphics, forums, and that "you heard it first" feel.
Most rumors hurt Apple. They hurt not only its sales, but its stock price. Look closely at the trend. Notice anything? Look at how Apple stock prices have been affected around expo times; January, May, July. Typically, Apple has posted it's worst quarters in January. This ties in to the rumors sites. Rumors sites are the most active in November and December.
Now back to the quote. What if a company that would like to start making 3rd party Apple applications or hardware - read all the rumors sites? Say none of the rumors came true; mostly, as MacWorld Expo on January 6, 2004. What if they felt they should delay their product or software? The rumor might still come true ... right? What if they delay their game, and then are bought out by a larger company that ceases the development of that game for the Mac Platform; as part of the restructuring of that company.
(Can anyone say Halo?)
"Part of the reason Halo has been delayed for the Mac is that we are waiting for better hardware on the Mac at a consumer level- rumors sites have indicated we may see that soon" ~ Bungie Rep
Another reason I chose to do this story is its relation to Jack Campbell. Jack was a longstanding member, with a big profile at SpyMac. In March of 2003, Jack launched MacWhispers.com. This site was often criticized for blatantly inaccurate rumors. It was also a rather unique spin on rumormongering. Jack claimed his source of information was the raw materials and suppliers of components to Apple. If true, this would have been coercion. MacWhispers (as with all of Jack's sites) and SpyMac are some of the most beautifully laid out sites on the internet. SOME people might even think Apple sponsored them.
(Following the link above will also help you understand MacWhispers/JackWhispers redirection and provide a little history to this site)
At best, Mac Rumors sites are bordering on libel. Apple often has to send cease &
decist letters to these sites. How much do you think that costs Apple every year? Consider; this is a cost that NO OTHER computer maker has. Dell doesn't have a rumors site. HP doesn't have a rumors site. The PDA industry is just about the only comparison. There are a lot of sites that prerelease PDA specs and pictures. BUT, and there's a big "but", these sites have a miniscule following and have little, to no effect, on sales.
I have good insider knowledge, myself, that one rumor site MAY have pissed Steve Jobs off so MUCH, that he got angry enough to destroy the flat panel iMac at its introduction - we would have seen it SIX MONTHS earlier.
Around expo time; in the summer and winter - many sites dabble in Apple rumor-mongering to get hits. These sites are USING YOU as a consumer and stealing thunder from the established sites. My advice: If you have to find out ahead of
time - visit www.macrumors.com OR visit a site that lays all Mac News out in a headline style posting: MacSurfer
A breakdown of Mac Rumors sites:
MacRumors.com: provides the most fair and balanced rumors - best forums
Great rumor wrapup - tries to avoid inaccuracies - updated often
MacOSRumors: shuts down if there's no news/ficticious reader emails. Posts ficticious "server was down" messages if no news - poor writing
AppleInsider: Accuracy in question - new owners - updates rare. Used to be premeir rumors site - similar problems to MacOSRumors
Think Secret: Nick DePlume (alias for Nick Ciarelli) - usually amazingly accurate - may be coercing buddies with complainers - mostly created as a revenge site by the disgruntled
PowerPage: Posts rumors for hits - ficticious rumors.
LoopRumors: no longer published - mostly inaccurate back in biz but not accurate; mostly a hoax Appears to have been published as a publicity stunt
MacWhispers: used to be Jack Campbell's Rumor site, no longer published MacWhispers "force resigned" from the web - now redirects to Jack Campbell's Technically True BLOG (that hasn't been updated in two months)
Advice to Mac software and hardware developers - have a policy of "no comment". Also, maintain strict Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) with your employees & suppliers. If you don't protect your items from the prying eyes and radar ears of
the rumor sites - you may just find YOUR product released by someone else; capitalizing on your niche.
[UPDATE] MacOSRumours was offline for more than 3 months. They didn't have the dirt to report. In their time of being MIA there were accurate rumors from Think Secret & MacRumors.com, but I would imagine that the lack of news acquistion on the part of MacOSRumors kept it down. If they would have chosen the old path of just making rumors up, they would be completely discreditted. As The Apple Turns did a story on this a week ago. Funny, when I went to ATAT I found this article too.
Since the posting of this story, MacOSRumors has returned, but almost never creditted with a good scoop any more. AppleInsider has been back in full swing and has had a pretty decent track record so far. They don't REALLY report rumors though, just seem to recycle others speculations. Think Secret continues to post anything that can harm Apple. Macrumors continues to be the site with the top information and best analysis and opinion site. [This is due to it's reader focus and forums]
There isn't much going on this week on the technology or Apple related scam front. At least there's nothing that I find interesting. I've noticed that I'm not the only one who doesn't have news to report. The typical Mac News websites would have you believe this has been a busy week.
I suppose a headline that caught my attention this week was Sony's announcement that no new Clie PDAs will be released in the US for calendar year 2004. For those of you not familiar, the Sony Clie is a handheld unit that uses the Palm OS. In my opinion they have been WAY ahead of the curve - innovating in the PDA market. My feelings are if Apple made a PDA - it would closely resemble the Clie.
Notice how I reported the news vs how MANY other websites reported it:
Out of the examples here, I think MacMinute came the closest; "Sony To Halt Handheld Sales In The US".
What you have here is a case of there being no news this week amongst the Mac Web, so you have headline theft. The story originated on Slashdot which was reported incorrectly to begin with.
The actual news was that Sony was releasing so many new products that it was surpassing demand for components. In particular, OLED and LCD displays. The Clie PDAs use a significant number of high end small LCDs (display screens). Sony is about to ramp up volume production of the PSP and Sony HDAV. The PSP is Sony's Playstaion portable device to compete with the Nintendo Gameboy. It is being touted as the biggest potential product launch in history. With the Playstation already being Sony's current bread and butter, you can see why they may want to hold off on other less successful product lines. (Eventhough the Clie is marginally profittable too)
Any of these headlines would make you think that Sony is going to stop selling their original and highly integrated PDAs for good. In fact, the Sony CEO said they plan to reintroduce Clies in the US in early 2005.
Many Mac news websites, during slow news times, just make headlines up. I would say the most guilty party is The PowerPage. O' Grady's PowerPage used to be a great site with lots of current and original information. Now, when news is slow, or hit totals are low, the site just participates in headline theft from Slashdot or a website called Mobile9.com. Then there are sensational journalism stories that are isolated compalints blown into universal problems that "could ruin Apple if they don't fix it" - a common ending statement in these stories. Occasionally, there are some reviews mixed in - but usually these reviews are are for products that are 4 product cycles old. Recently a review of a bluetooth headset was given. It was a really good review. Problem is: The headset had been out 8 months and a new model had come on to the market 2 weeks PRIOR to the review.
When most Mac news websites post a complaint about a video problem; the hypochondriacs come out of hiding. The PowerPage, in particular, seems to have a following of hypochondriacs. Another site, MacRumors (which is a very good site) relies on the hypochondriac to keep news flowing.
So what do I expect here? Should websites just not report anything? No, there's lots of stuff to report on slow days. MacCentral often reports product releases as news. Until recently, these "product releases" labelled as "press announcements" didn't carry a picture, it was just a hyped up wordy product pitch; sent directly from the manufacturer of the product. These "press releases" smell especially fowl because it seems like MacCentral may be getting paid to publish some of them. For instance; Epson releases a new LCD projector. A long wordy "press release" shows up on MacCentral about a product that has nothing really related to Macs and certainly has no new groundbreaking feature set or price point. What's the motivation to posting a story like that? Who cares? Here's who: the editor that gets a loaner projector or advertising dollar "considerations".
I often create news on websites. I try to post to 4 websites every day in various forums. Often, I try to correct stories or add a different perspective to them. Some of those forum posts make it to my Slashdot Journal, some make it here. I use other website's forums as a way to microadvertise my opinions and my website. My website, in turn, advertises for my sales and auctions. I try to get attention by positive word of mouth, and by curiousity of the difference in opinion. I also try to add elements to this website that draw visitors for other things than just whining about problems or needing something. There are few Mac-centric websites that I know of that have a compelling reason to be on them other than forums. I would say the best website on the internet for Macs and related topics is XLR8yourMac.com It's not beautifully laid out. The website occasionally has blatant advertisements, but the main advertiser; Other World Computing, often has a quick blurb, that is posted like a friendly email. I think it's a unique approach to advertising and because I like the site and don't think it's websmaster/site owner is an ad whore, I patronize Other World Computing - sometimes - even if they are higher.
I may be having delusions of granduer here. Yes, my narcissitic side comes through every now and then. So, that was your preface. I believe some of my comments in various forums get others to post and participate. The problem is, usually my posts are an opposite point of view. (Not intentionally, just my honest view) Again, you can reference last week's story.
So, what has my honest, carefully researched opinion gotten me? Well I've been banned from posting on three websites. If I create news and I bring hit totals higher and my "opinions" aren't refuted, then what would I be banned for? Well, often, webmasters are "self proclaimed Gods". They take no criticism. They make no improvements. They make no mistakes. After I did a story on PaypalSucks.com my IP address was banned so I can no longer post on the website. Interesting how this website doesn't ban people who obviously have mental problems and multiple personalities. Last week I was banned from The PowerPage. I had an instant message conversation with Jason O Grady over the issue - he was the rudest, most foul mouthed, baby of a person, I think I've ever chatted with. Of course, I was banned from posting on PDABuzz after I pointed out that the contest that was held in December on the site, was a fake. It still was never disclosed if any of the winners (who weren't actual participants in the contest) got their prize.
These webmasters must take me for an idiot. In fact, Jason O'Grady [of OGrady's PowerPage] called me exactly that. All one has to do is; mask their IP address and post away, or simply post from another location. If I find a story horribly inaccurate (which is often) on the site, I'll just register under a different IP and name and make my voice heard. Of course - now this story will make it into Google searches. Hopefully, an advertiser or two (that contributes to the O'Grady website) will see it. I hope that they will take note of the information here.