I'm finding it increasingly difficult to know how to handle xG, the Florida based but London listed wireless data company with a breakthrough technology it's kept out of public scrutiny for many years.
To date, none of the company's plans has come to fruition. Its first generation of product has come and gone without deployment or any proof of functionality, the flagship roll-out cancelled amid a cloud of ill-feeling and general confusion. Evaluation deals with various third parties have apparently expired without further interest. The tiniest amount of technical data, uncheckable and largely information-free, has been presented on the xG website. What partners it has are contractors, doing xG's bidding while refusing to say anything more.
What there is, is rumour, and in great profusion. And if the technology remains mysterious and uncheckable, then the rumours - mostly promulgated on a couple of independent bulletin boards - are doubly so. There is - or was, it may have been cancelled but I saw the original filing - a court case against the company that may or may not have been brought by the chief engineer, who may or may not have resigned with a few others over what might or might not be arguments over promised stock options that may or may not have been withheld.
That's just one. No aspect of xG's operation has gone unquestioned, and precious few of those questions have been adequately answered. if you have the slightest interest in what's really going on, good luck to you in finding out.
But if you do have that interest, you'll be practically alone. For one constant I can report from first hand experience: nobody without a financial interest in the company has the slightest belief in it.
Since xG invited me and a handful of other hacks over to Florida in 2005 to see a demonstration, I've talked about the company to engineers, network operators, handset manufacturers and anyone else in the wireless business, from independent analysts to billion-dollar CEOs, who are too polite to get away quickly enough.
The replies have ranged on a spectrum from "Who?" to "Ha!".
Doubtless xG's more enthusiastic supporters will claim this is an industry in denial, running frightened from a seismic event that will overturn empires. But I've found that bona fide industry players take real competition seriously and with respect: you get plenty of spin, sure, but where there are real questions they tend to get real discussion.
That's entirely absent here. On the technical and business front, xG is invisible. It's not behaving like any other public company three years into a strategy. It remains impossible for me to match the company's public statements with anything going on outside its walls, and I'll be extremely surprised if anything resembling a rabbit appears out of this particular hat.
But I'll carry on watching, like those under the command of the apocryphal Army officer whose assessment ran: "His men will follow him anywhere, if only out of curiosity".