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Rumor Roundup: Sad state

Let's open this week's roundup with an examination of the state of the Apple rumor scene.

The sad state of Apple rumors (Macworld)

This past week, Macworld published an article lamenting the current state of Apple rumors. Macworld's take is that the Big Three Devices have already launched -- Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad. What we're left with is scraps of rumors regarding iterative upgrades to these devices, or products like the rumored smartwatch and HDTV that don't seem to rev Macworld's engine.

Macworld is right about one thing: Apple rumors are in a truly sad state. But it has less to do with the devices (real or imagined) under discussion and more to do with universally terrible sourcing and a pervasive lack of critical thinking skills when evaluating what those terrible sources have to say.

Any industry that wilfully publishes every last scrap of information that dribbles out of some random, often-wrong analyst is definitely in a sad state... and this week was a perfect object lesson in just how sad it's become.

Rumor: Leaked KDDI document claims 'iPhone 5S' pre-orders go live June 20, launch in July (AppleInsider)

There is no chance that any wireless carrier anywhere in the world knows the launch date of Apple's new iPhone this far in advance. To its credit, AppleInsider spent a significant portion of this article pointing out all the reasons this document might not be the genuine article -- but the fact they published this nonsense in the first place negates any points they may have gained.

Apple to release OS X 10.9 with new power-user features, more from iOS later this year (9to5 Mac)

None of these rumored features sound particularly outlandish. 9to5 Mac probably has an internal source at Apple for stories like this, as its software forecasts generally turn out to be far more accurate than average.

Jony Ive paints a fresh, yet familiar, look for iOS 7 (9to5 Mac)

Despite the length of this article, there isn't much here that's either new or surprising. The second it became known that Ive was going to be in charge of iOS software UI design, virtually everyone expected him to strip out all the stitched leather, green felt and yellow notebook paper that's been proliferating through iOS. It seems pretty obvious that a man well-known for creating simple, functional, and iconic hardware designs would bring that same aesthetic sense to the software.

iPhone reportedly coming to Boost Mobile in Q3 of 2013 (9to5 Mac)

Around this time in 2012, the iPhone was rumored to be headed for Boost Mobile in September. It didn't happen.

As Apple readies entry-level iPhone, low-cost smartphone market predicted to explode (BGR)

From the article: "Apple hasn't announced any new smartphones yet this year, but the company's plans seem like a matter of public record at this point." Someone please tell BGR that rumor does not equal fact. The article that follows quotes some "market research firm" throwing numbers up in the air like chicken bones and then trying to divine Apple's intentions from how they fall. This "research firm" also falls into the always hilarious trap of predicting what the smartphone market will look like five years in the future. Extra credit awarded to anyone who finds 2008 predictions from this same firm and compares it to the reality in 2013.

In iOS 7, Apple wants to own your car's console with Maps and Siri integration (9to5 Mac)

Tighter car-iPhone integration is something we can all get behind. Unless you're a motorcycle rider like me, in which case you're probably just hoping this makes it less likely drivers will get so distracted by Siri's antics that they merge right into your face.

Apple relents: iPhone 6 with larger display reportedly due in June 2014 (BGR)

Full disclosure: this headline makes me angry. "Apple relents?" It's like BGR pictures crowds of pitchfork-waving peasants storming Cupertino demanding iPhones with gigantic screens. Meanwhile, Tim Cook's sulking in an office at 1 Infinite Loop, a single tear running down his face as he says, "You know what? FINE. Have an iPhablet. Whatever, I don't care anymore."

The sourcing behind this article is typically terrible. Analyst Peter Misek, who's been proven many times to be wrong far more often than he's right, claims Apple will be launching a big-screen iPhone 6 in June 2014.

Let's be clear about this: there is absolutely no one outside of a select few high-level employees at Apple who has any idea what the company's plans are more than a year from now. Anyone outside of that cadre claiming to have inside knowledge of Apple's roadmap is selling something... and it's your own foolish fault if you buy it.

iPad mini reportedly accounted for 64% of all iPads shipped last quarter (BGR)

Speaking of terrible rumor sourcing, "unnamed sources have told Digitimes" something or other. I don't know exactly what, because I stopped reading this article the instant my eyes hit the D-word.

Haswell graphics performance makes Retina MBA a possibility – but not a certainty (9to5 Mac)

This is less of a rumor article and more an analysis from someone who kind of sounds like he knows what he's talking about. It's a good look at how many things have to fit together in order to make Retina MacBook Airs a reality -- display density, graphical performance, battery capacity and life, and cost are just a few of the factors at hand. Display density and graphical performance appear to be addressed; whether the other two have been solved will likely be the determining factor in how soon we'll see Retina displays on Apple's smallest notebooks.

Apple to test low-cost iPhone in small volumes – (unlikely) supply chain claim (9to5 Mac)

Digitimes makes a claim that 9to5 Mac finds spurious enough to call it out as unlikely in the headline... but 9to5 Mac still publishes the information anyway.

Guys, I promise that if we all stop paying attention to Digitimes, they will eventually go away. That is literally how the news media works. Ask any of the thousands of newspapers that have been shut down in the past 20 years.

Will the low-cost iPhone in fact be a $350 mid-level handset? (9to5 Mac)

Notice how we've moved on from questioning whether this device exists at all to speculating on how much it will cost.

Smart TV Adoption Growing Rapidly, Market Ripe for Apple iTV (MacRumors)

The original survey makes no mention of an Apple-branded HDTV at all, but that doesn't stop MacRumors from ginning up speculation about the long-rumored device.

I bought a new TV last year and deliberately steered clear of paying for extra features I knew I'd never use, like 3D, Internet connectivity, and half-baked apps. It was actually quite difficult finding a TV with a decent display that omitted these features, and a year later it's probably more difficult still.

I have always believed the HDTV industry is one Apple would be wise to steer clear of, for many reasons. Nothing remotely credible has surfaced over the past several years to alter my opinion.

Bloomberg: Jony Ive's new software design role could lead to delays for iOS 7 (9to5 Mac)

Now we come to the biggest rumor debacle of the week. I've singled out 9to5 Mac here, but every rumor blog out there ate up Bloomberg's story about an iOS 7 delay quicker than a t-bone steak thrown into a piranha tank. MacRumors' take on the same story references an update from AllThingsD describing specific UI changes expected, but the article makes no mention of AllThingsD's debunking of the "iOS 7 delayed" claims.

It's only later in the day that we get updates like these:

Here's a blow-by-blow recap of how the day played out with regard to this rumor.

  1. Bloomberg publishes a story claiming that inside sources say iOS 7's debut will be delayed.
  2. Every rumor blog on the planet jumps on the story and re-reports it without a second's hesitation.
  3. AllThingsD and other more reputable sources (such as Jim Dalrymple) come forward and say that iOS 7 will, in fact, launch on time.
  4. Every rumor blog on the planet jumps on the update and re-reports it without correcting or retracting their previous posts.

That is the sad state of Apple rumors right there.

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