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Rumor Roundup: Bite the hand that feeds you

Here's what we know for certain about Apple's upcoming event on October 22:

  • Apple will hold an event on October 22.

Here's what many suspect Apple will announce at that event:

  • The fifth-generation iPad, drawing design cues from the iPad mini
  • A second-generation iPad mini, which may or may not have a Retina display
  • Launch date for OS X Mavericks
  • Launch date for the redesigned Mac Pro

If you've got anything other than that on your Apple Event Bingo scorecard... best of luck to you. Meanwhile, let's see if there's any last minute "insights" from the rumor scene. (Spoiler: if you've been following Apple rumors for any appreciable length of time, you'll know why I put "insights" inside sarcasm quotes.)

Apple expected to introduce redesigned Smart Cover alongside slimmer 5th-gen iPad (AppleInsider)

Some analyst thinks the next iPad's Smart Cover will have different dimensions than the existing version, "based on conversations with Chinese and Taiwanese suppliers." This analyst's track record has been shaky at best; unfortunately, he's probably right this time given the expected redesign of the full-size iPad's chassis, which means at least another six months of rumor blogs spreading every word he says like it came straight from Apple executives.

Like iPad 3, new iPad mini could be technically thicker to fit Retina Display (9to5 Mac)

"Technically" thicker? That's the best kind of thicker!

The next iPad mini will supposedly be 0.3 millimeters thicker to accommodate the bigger battery necessary to drive a higher-powered Retina display, which 9to5 Mac says is "hardly noticeable." We'll see how hardly noticeable it is when/if this actually happens; considering how gibberingly mad various bloggers went when the iPad 3 was 0.6 mm thicker and a handful of grams heavier than the iPad 2, I'm guessing anyone paid to gin up anti-Apple news at any cost definitely will notice.

Bad news, Apple fans: New report claims no new Retina iPad mini will be unveiled next week (BGR)

Bad news, BGR fans: this new report comes from a notoriously inaccurate analyst who contradicts claims from AllThingsD, a far more reliable source of news relating to all things Apple.

Rumor: Updated MacBook Pros to arrive in late Oct., new Mac Pro in mid Nov. (AppleInsider)

A French website you've never heard of makes launch date claims about unreleased Apple products. No proof, no evidence. We're just supposed to take their word for it, I guess?

Apple's Dual iPhone Strategy in Doubt (Wall Street Journal)

Buried within this doom 'n' gloom piece is this tidbit:

"The reduced orders could indicate weak demand, or could signal that Apple wanted to ensure adequate supply of the 5C so that potential buyers, who were more likely to be switching from competing phones, didn't have to walk out of a store empty-handed."

Assuming that the supplier info actually points to a drop in production of the iPhone 5c –- which is by no means guaranteed, since Tim Cook himself said supply chain info doesn't paint a complete picture –- the above paragraph is the only part of the WSJ's piece that seems like it strikes close to the truth. Apple's supply chain is agile enough that it can increase or decrease production of its units in virtually immediate response to the ebb and flow of demand. Rather than what many retailers do, which is create an oversupply of units to keep shelves stocked even during times of lowered demand, Apple generally follows a "just-in-time" model for production.

If demand for the iPhone 5c has suddenly dropped off compared to September, this shouldn't come as a surprise; demand for new iPhones is always high in the immediate weeks following launch, then trails off slowly, with an even higher peak during the holiday period. It makes perfect sense to trail off production now, then ramp it up again in, say, mid- to late-November in anticipation of the holiday rush. The alternative is millions of iPhones gathering dust in the back of Apple stores, and we all know what the media's reaction to that would be.

Naturally, since none of this fits the "Apple is doomed" narrative, that's not the line the WSJ is pushing hardest. And unfortunately for the publication's steadily unravelling credibility when it comes to Apple news, there's another complication...

WSJ backpedals on iPhone 5c supply chain cuts story (AppleInsider)

As AppleInsider notes (and soundly criticizes), the WSJ's story was initially even more alarmist than the version cited above, until the publication went in and performed minor surgery on it.

For the past couple years I've noticed a steady decline in the reliability of the Journal's coverage of Apple, which led me to wonder on Twitter why anyone still considers them a credible source where Apple is concerned. One of my followers pointed out that the Journal still receives highly reliable information immediately before Apple events –- whether deliberately "leaked" by Apple or not is the eternally open question –- so that's led me to a new rule of thumb with regard to the Journal:

Any speculative piece about Apple printed in the Wall Street Journal is no longer worth paying attention to, unless it's less than ~24 hours from an Apple event.

Apple Increasing iPhone 5s Production by 75%, Cutting iPhone 5c Orders by 35% (MacRumors)

Yet another source claims iPhone 5c orders are being cut, while iPhone 5s orders are getting boosted. Strangely, rather than going with the typical "Apple is doomed" schtick, this source points out that Apple selling more of its higher-priced, higher-margin iPhone units is actually a good thing for the company's bottom line. Thus, the narrative is less "Apple's mid-tier iPhone sales fall flat" and more, "Apple's high-tier iPhones still sales favorite." Funny how that works.

Retina iPad mini forecast to outsell thinner 'iPad 5' nearly 2:1, if Apple meets demand (AppleInsider)

You know the drill by now: a bunch of analysts threw some chicken bones at the floor in a hilariously misguided attempt to predict sales numbers for unannounced, unreleased products. I don't trust the weather forecast in my part of the world more than 48 hours in advance, and I definitely don't trust analysts' sales forecasts for products that no one outside of Apple (and select Chinese factories) has even seen yet.

Apple's Retina iPad mini could be next to impossible to find at launch (BGR)

Since almost-always-wrong analyst Peter Misek is the source for this information, I think it's far more likely that the Retina iPad mini will be available in every corner drugstore the day after launch.

Rumor: Amazon's French and German sites suggest new Apple TV coming Oct. 23 (AppleInsider)

A sudden shift in the date of availability of the current Apple TV sparks off speculation that an updated version is coming. When last seen, Gene "Where's my Apple HDTV" Munster was downing an entire bottle of Pepto Bismol and a dozen nitroglycerine tablets.

Apple event predictions from KGI: Thinner, lighter A7X iPad 5 w/improved cam but no gold or TouchID. Also A7 iPad Mini w/Retina, Haswell MacBook Pros (9to5 Mac)

This far-too-long headline accomplishes two things: it identifies the source and the bulk of the article itself. Since the source is a hit-or-miss analyst, there's very little motivation to read beyond the headline. But let's give it a shot anyway.

"Kuo predicts a slimmer iPad 5 with 20% lighter weight down to 7.5mm and 500g respectively. He also expects an 8 megapixel camera with a larger aperture on the order of the iPhone 5 and a new 64-bit A7X processor."

"Bold" predictions all, considering virtually everyone has expected all of these things for months. Same with Kuo's prediction that the iPad mini will have a Retina display.

A gold color option and Touch ID are apparently off the table for the iPads. We'll see about that.

There's nothing earth-shattering in this report, and it hews close enough to the overall consensus of what everyone already expected that it doesn't come across as particularly visionary. But if even half of this stuff turns out to be accurate, you can count on rumor blogs to continue hailing this particular analyst as some sort of expert prognosticator.

Next-generation iPad dimensions reveal sleeker design (TUAW)

Wait, what? TUAW?! Oh, great.

I work with the guy who wrote this article, so I suppose I could have flat-out asked him what his source was to determine if this story was worth the attention he gave it. But since I don't do that for anyone else's publication, I figured that was giving TUAW an unfair advantage. So I'm judging this on its own merits, just like everyone else.

As for posting this rumor on TUAW in the first place... there's a saying somewhere about stones and glass houses. I forget how it goes. Anyway, I prefer the phrase, "Some men just want to watch the world burn."

*lights match*

From the article: "As our longtime readers know, TUAW usually scoffs at rumors."

That's right. It's because the overwhelming majority of them are complete bull. How is this one any different?

"When a reputable case manufacturer provides exact dimensions of a device a few days ahead of an Apple product launch, it's hard to ignore." Sure, because case manufacturers have never, ever gotten it wrong.

The dimensions given are extraordinarily specific –- down to tenths of a millimetre –- which doesn't leave a whole lot of margin for error. It's likely this particular case manufacturer got its hands on one of the "leaked" cases that various blogs have breathlessly photographed and catalogued, and it's basing its case dimensions off of that.

Whether that gamble pays off for the case manufacturer in question -– or for TUAW, who believed them enough to post this story despite its notorious distaste for rumors –- only time will tell.

All the case manufacturer stands to lose is time and a small amount of money retooling its fabrication facilities to any corrected dimensions. TUAW's risk is arguably just as precarious; after a year and a half of throwing stones at other publications for posting rumors of questionable (at best) veracity, it would be unfortunate indeed if a story like this one became an excuse for the BGRs of the world to point the finger and laugh at us.

Fair warning, Steve: if that happens, I will fly out to Colorado and smack you upside the head with a herring.



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