Mailbag: "Is the rumor [insert random iPhone 5 rumor] true?"

Listen, let me let you in on a little secret. Almost all of the iPhone 5 rumors that you come across are ... how can I put this ... garbage.

Here are some questions that have been hitting the Hardware 2.0 mailbag regularly over the past few weeks:

"Why aren't you talking about iPhone 5 rumors?"

"What do you know about the iPhone 5?"

"Is the rumor [insert random iPhone 5 rumor] true?"

Listen, let me let you in on a little secret. Almost all of the iPhone 5 rumors (and for that matter most Apple rumors in general) that you come across are ... how can I put this ... garbage.

Why? That's a good question! The reason is that because of Apple's enormous consumer popularity an entire industry has sprung up around Apple 'news' over the past few years. This enormous industry requires regular feeding, but there's only so much genuine Apple news to go around. Because of this, there's a gargantuan discrepancy between the scant supply of information compared to the insatiable demand for Apple news.

Enter the rumor mill.

Here is a (incomplete) list of the top Apple rumor fodder at the moment:

  • iPhone 5 (bearing in mind we don't even know if it will be called 'iPhone 5' yet!)
  • iPad 3/HD/retina display or whatever it's called (or rumors that the device has been canceled ... we're entering the territory where there are now rumors about rumors ... gahhh!)
  • Apple transitioning to ARM chips
  • 3G MacBook Air
  • Every tiny thing relating to Apple patents or job postings

What little that might be true or accurate (or sensible) is buried in a torrent of effluent consisting of fake, made up, misguided and inaccurate nonsense. Watch out particularly for any story that quotes 'sources.' That one word is a massive danger sign. Then there's the stuff that's simply overblown by the media in order to create a hyped-up story revolving around, well, nothing (one example that springs to mind was the hyperventilation over Glassgate).

What happens when there's absolutely nothing Apple-related for Apple sites to talk about? Just throw some keywords into the title and hope for the best! Seriously. I'm amazed at the number of articles I come across that have 'Apple' or 'iPhone' or 'iPad' in the title that turn out to have little or nothing to do with 'Apple' or 'iPhone' or 'iPad' when you go on to read the piece. This, ladies and gentlemen, is link baiting, and it happens a lot these days.

Here's the deal. I get in literally dozens of Apple-related 'tips' every week (far more than for any other company out there). How many of these tips pass muster and are published? Check out my post and Twitter stream and see - very few.

Why is the signal to noise ration so bad? Because as a rule people at Apple don't talk to journalists, and the few that do, do so carefully and quietly, looking over their shoulder the whole time (I'm serious). Why? Because talking about stuff is a fast track to the unemployment line. Same goes for people in the supply chain. People don't talk because they want to keep their jobs. Rumors grow to fill the vacuum.

So, the reason I don't report on Apple rumors as much as some outlets do is that most (greater than 99%) are nonsense of one description of another. Of the remaining 1% I'm convinced that most are right accidentally rather than because they're based on reliable information. After all, a broken clock is right twice a day.

Bear this in mind the next time you ask me about an Apple rumor!