Will the rumor machine ruin Apple's iPod surprise?

Will the rumor machine ruin Apple's iPod surprise?

Summary: The clamor of rumors keeps growing about Apple's "beat goes on" event set for Wednesday morning in San Francisco. But could there be a let-down if the company just shows cool, new iPods?

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TOPICS: Apple, Hardware
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The clamor of rumors keeps growing about Apple's "beat goes on" event set for Wednesday morning in San Francisco. But could there be a let-down if the company just shows cool, new iPods?

As is the case with any Apple introduction, there's a great amount of speculation surrounding what will be released. There's almost a certainty for new lines of video iPods and nano-style audio players.

Apple Music invitationAt the same time, I've seen discussion of "Mac OS X-based iPods" and WiFi-enabled iPods that can download music over the Internet away from a host computer. And iPods that will connect to digital radio broadcasts. With Steve Jobs and Apple anything seems possible — these thing could happen. Or not.

Yet, sometimes the expectation of these rumored pieces of hardware take on a life of their own. Apple ends up being judged for "missing" the release of an rumored product.

I remember this happening back some 10 years ago. I believe it was a Monday or Tuesday introduction in November, 1997, held on the De Anza Community College campus near the Apple headquarters.

My recollection is that the expectation was soaring back then for some new telephony-enabled handheld or tablet computer. This was what the press came to Cupertino to hear.

Now, MacWEEK ran a different story: our sources said Apple would release its first PowerPC G3 systems, code-named Gossamer, as well as the first PowerBook G3 machine, the PowerBook G3/250, called Kanga. I wrote the prediction in a front page article in the November 3, 1997, issue.

In the auditorium, I sat next to a young woman reporter from Newsweek magazine. When Steve Jobs finished his presentation, she said out loud that this event had been a "big waste of time." According to her, Apple had failed by not introducing the handheld (or whatever it was, I'm shaky on these ancient rumors). She was fuming.

I turned to her and asked her a few questions. First off, I wondered why she had put so much stock on this rumor to begin with?

While I had been prepared to be wrong, the rumors had all seemed far-fetched to me. There was no confirmation.

Besides, the first PPC G3 machines were big news to the Mac installed base. Of course, this reporter didn't care about that — switchers were a think-different dream back in those days.

Besides, I aksed, how could the missing, rumored device be considered a "failure?" Wasn't the failure here, after all, more about her reporting?

I suggested that any system vendor should make news by bringing to the market (what was then) the fastest notebook computer on the planet. Wasn't that something worthy of reporting, even though it was from Apple, and cost $5,699, and weighed almost 8 pounds?

In addition, I pointed out Apple's new channel strategy, and the introduction of mini-stores within CompUSA, were also important new tacks for the company and Mac users. In the stores, Apple would hire and train its own group of sales reps. And Mac users would find sales support for Mac products.

Apple had tested this concept in Australia first in the mid-1990s and then developed the plan further on the mainland. The success of this project lead directly to the Apple stores, which are a great marketing success story. These CompUSA mini-stores still exist and the concept was expanded to Best Buy stores.

That day in 1997 also featured the introduction of Apple's WebObjects-powered online store. It was almost a footnote in the story. That too has been a huge hit.

In hindsight, there weren't so many failures that day.

Topics: Apple, Hardware

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22 comments
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  • A lot of rumors are based on wishes

    When the rumors start flying it's generally the Mac heads that are
    posting their Utopian desires - like 32 gigs of FLASH included in
    a $250 iPod.

    I tend to be in the group that sorta believes more realistic
    rumors. A new iPod that is basically an iPhone without the Phone
    part is possible, maybe even probable, because the technology is
    there. I would put my 2 cents on a HD instead of FLASH simply
    because of the cost factor. Actually I think I might want to buy
    one of those.

    The other exciting potential is the use of OS X in iPods, like in the
    iPhone. That opens up a lot of potential over time and opens the
    door to a LOT of speculation.

    Now, throw in the fact that Apple has one of the best industrial
    designers around - and a guy that gets full support from the CEO
    - and you have a potential for designs that are going to be hard
    to find during the holiday shopping season.

    I don't think the rumors are going to "ruin" the impact of the new
    iPod range. There will be some prayers answered and some left
    until later, but I'm looking for Apple to deliver some winners.
    Ken_z
  • The rumor machine has become..

    part of the Apple ecosystem. From people like Rob
    Enderle and Troy Wolverton to the anti-Apple trolls
    who post on ZDNet, there is an entire subculture that
    seems to get off on saying inaccurate things about
    Apple and their products.

    The ZDNet trolls don't really matter, of course, since
    no one really takes them seriously. The guys like
    Enderle and Wolverton, however, are the ones who get
    in the papers with their rumor-mongering,
    masquerading as analysis. They're the ones who work
    hard to spread the rumors, so they can then go on
    record stating that Apple failed to meet (their own
    false) expectations.
    msalzberg
    • Already apologizing?

      Wow, and nothing has been announced yet! You are FAST! :)
      NonZealot
      • Already trolling?

        Wow, as you said, nothing has been announced yet. As soon as it is, you'll chime in
        and say how MS or others have had it for years, all Mac users are mind-numbed
        robots, etc. We've heard it all before, NZ. What did Jobs do to you anyhow? P-- in
        your cheerios?
        jknits
      • You've proved my point.

        Without the Apple ecosystem to feed off of, what useful thing might you be doing instead of trolling?
        msalzberg
  • MS - Masters Of Vapourware

    The journalist in the articles ten year old adage must have blown fuses regularly if she also covered Microsoft product announcements. Microsoft founded the concept of vapourware and flogged it mercilessly. Microsoft's stable of vaporware products would surely dance on the points of several pins.

    Meanwhile, the mighty Zune, arbiter of broken "Play For Sure" promises, languishes like a crippled slug on the sidelines.

    The sour-dipped quills of ZDnet's MS shills are free advertising for Apple ... in essence, Microsoft can't compete without stealing, and iPod has beat their corporate nose bloody.

    Ho ho.
    whisperycat
    • Interesting

      I looked all through the blog written and didn't see 'Microsoft' once. Yet you managed to pull it in anyway. It appears someone certainly has [i]sour-dipped quills[/i].
      Badgered
      • Pass me my glasses

        Oh yes! Well of course Microsoft aren't mentioned. The point I was making didn't need it to. In essence this leading edge tech article consists of a 10 year old story about a journalist who was fuming that Apple weren't releasing the gadgets the rumours had indicated they would. So I said, well, it's a good job that journalist wasn't covering Microsoft product releases, they are (and have always been) the MASTERS of vapourware. See? It's coherent, it's relevant, and it's true. ZDnet really will use a 10 year old apocryphal tale to have a pop at Apple, especially when they haven't got a (viable) competing product ion the ring. Not even a vapourware one.
        whisperycat
        • Of course

          why deal with the subject matter, when the attention can so easily be defelcted toward a more suitable target? Rant on!
          Badgered
  • RE: Will the rumor machine ruin Apple's iPod surprise?

    Does it really matter? I think all that matter is if people buy the products and Apple makes money. A ruined surprise is really nothing at all.
    voska
    • Exactly right

      Just like MS likely benefited a lot from piracy, Apple benefits a lot from people swallowing Jobs' hype and then hyping it even more. Then, when the product is actually released and doesn't even come close to matching the hype (I mean, not even [b]close!!![/i]), the apologists come out and start talking about how the interface [i]flow[/i] from one function to another and how functionality is bad which is why Apple cripples their products so much and how, at least you are supporting the "little" guy when you buy an Apple product from the multi-national corporation with a multi-billionaire owner!! Hehe, I wish I was a little guy like Jobs! :)
      NonZealot
      • Wow...

        Your handle is SO out of phase with your reality.
        BitTwiddler
      • And what hype didn't match the reality?

        Provide link, your street cred is 0.

        The iPhone is the best-selling phone in its category in month 1. I know no Apple
        Mac owners that own an iPhone, every one of them that I know uses a PC.

        The iPod didn't match the hype? You are crazy.

        Oh, that's right, your posts are jokes and we are supposed to laugh...

        hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
        mlindl
      • Soooo

        ... what's the weather like on that planet you're on? Don't have much oxygen there,
        do you?
        PKRWUD
    • Unfortunately, the stock market "thinks different"

      As has been witnessed over the last few months, rumours can have a big influence on stock prices, especially Apple's.

      A mere rumour (further pushed on Engadget) of Apple product delays caused a market panic and sharp drop in Apple stock a few months back. Rumour was proven false but damage was done.

      All this "wish list" gossip starts a feeding frenzy and then when totally unsupported and unsubstantiated rumoured products/services fail to materialize, Apple has somehow suddenly failed to please and has dropped the ball.

      ...
      MacCanuck
  • It doesn't matter

    I think Apple is a Thought Leadership company - they know their customer and their
    business intimately and prove over and over again that they can give people what they
    want - high quality at a reasonable price. And The Cube was how they learned that
    lesson.

    If only EVERY company in the world had that view of business instead of just pleasing
    the shareholders.
    mlindl
  • iPod Surprise

    I'm hoping there is an iPod surprise. But not all the bells and whistles everyone keeps assuming. I'm holding out on upgrading my current 30GB iPod until a 120GB iPod is out. I've got 83 gigs of music and no where to store them completely on my iPod. :-(( HELP ME APPLE!!!

    (Note: This may be a far-fetched wish on my part because I'm asking for basic increased functionality by expanding size, not bells and whistles, which is what Apple usually goes after.)
    yyuko@...
  • iPod finished...

    The Zune price cut announced today is the final nail in the *Pod culture. My rep told me this morning to step up operation "Rotten to the Core". I sent out an email this morning as follows:

    To: All Global Users
    From: Mike Cox (CIO)
    Subject: Rotten Apples

    Users,

    I want to repeat that if anyone is seen using, looking at or discussing Apple products, they will be terminated immediately.

    Regards,
    Mike Cox (CIO)

    HR saw this and immediately sent out a follow up but I had one of my MCSEs bring down the Exchange server to stop the message.
    Mike Cox
    • LOL. Nice. 8.9

      nt
      Hallowed are the Ori
  • RE: Will the rumor machine ruin Apple's iPod surprise?

    The Apple store is now closed for business as they do
    updates. Wonder what they will be?
    Amonra