Monitoring Rumors

29 04 2014

Publishing media always want to attract readers.
Within the electronic industry it’s Apple sitting in the center of all-embracing interest. The Cupertino-based company was and in some way still is well-know for it’s secrecy and it was Steve Jobs who closed all doors and windows at the time the company started to develop the iPhone.

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Secrecy always goes along with excitement and parents keeping the secrets before Christmas awaken this kind of excitement in their children. But the culture of secrecy is disturbed by an increasing number of companies all over the world (more than 700) which form the supply chain for the company. What we can see is that the number of news leaks also increased. Rumors push publicity and interests. Are they welcome for Apple?

The Apple community …

The Apple community is considered to form an extension of the advertisement department of the company. Generally this has evolved into a proliferation of websites, all involved in online stories and discussions about Apple’s products and how to use them, with some specifically speculating on rumors about future product releases.

Such stories and discussions may include topics related to physical products like the Macintosh and iOS devices (e.g. the iPhone, iPod, and iPad); software and operating systems, like iOS, OS X, and Final Cut Pro; or even services like iCloud. In recent years, a more specific subculture within the Apple community has developed, where some websites will focus almost exclusively on rumors about new Apple products and services.

Apple enjoys a cult-like following for its platforms, especially following the massive increase in popularity for the brand brought about by the huge increase in sales for all its products that started around the time the company introduced the original iPod in late 2001.
The mass usage of computing devices in everyday life, mixed with Apple’s vertical integration of its products, has helped to bring about this increase in popularity, and combined with a tight-lipped corporate policy about future products, helped foster an interest in the company’s activities.

The culture of mass discussion about Apple products goes back to when the company started to sell significant numbers of their original computers in the early 1980s. Latterly, the industry of Macintosh rumor speculation, began with a regular column in the now defunct MacWEEK magazine called “Mac the Knife” and written under a pseudonym. This column would often cover topics such as upcoming hardware releases from Apple, as well as new software products and incremental updates with new features. It was written by the MacWeek staff and was sometimes used by companies as an early form of viral marketing to generate buzz around products before they were ready for release.

We all know that the stock exchange is a place for gamblers and so it’s obvious that rumors even affect the stock exchange value of the company of further rumors come up.

Are any of these rumors meaningful to investors? After all, Apple CEO Tim Cook warned analysts against reading into supply-chain rumors:

Months of rumors about order cuts and so forth, so let me take a moment to comment on these. No comment on any particular rumor.

I suggest it’s good to question the accuracy of any kind of rumor about build plans. Even if a particular data point were factual, it would be impossible to interpret that data point as to what it meant to our business. The supply chain is very complex and we have multiple sources for things. Yields can vary, supplier performance can vary. There is an inordinate long list of things that can make any single data point not a great proxy for what is going on.

So there is still a lot of secrecy but rumors in 2013 shortly before Apple’s Keynote in October already presented the iPhone 5S with it’s fingerprint scanner and the 64-Bit processor. We saw lots of people being disappointed. This also happens when parents “inform” their children about upcoming Christmas presents.

Sources of rumors …

Wikipedia about publishing media:

9to5Mac

9to5Mac is an Apple-focused technology news website founded in 2007 by Seth Weintraub. The site gained fame early on because it accurately predicted the release of the first aluminum iMac, an ultra-thin Apple notebook that was launched as the first-generation MacBook Air, as well as Apple’s invention of the aluminum unibody notebook manufacturing process.
The site also gained fame for leaking genuine photos of this third-generation iPod nano as well as details about the first iPod touch. Apple demanded 9to5Mac remove the images of the iPod nano. In recent years, 9to5Mac has continued leading the Apple news industry revealing many details about various product lines.
In 2011, the website’s writers originally revealed the “iPhone 4S” name a full six months before the product’s announcement—and reported the iPhone 4S would include a Siri Assistant feature with Wolfram Alpha integration, the dual-core A5 processor from the iPad 2, and 64GB of storage capacity.
In 2012, the site revealed much of what would eventually become the iPhone 5, releasing accurate, high-resolution photographs of the device a full five months before the introduction. The site also revealed iPhone 5 details such as internal hardware, display, and software specifications such as an Apple-built Maps application to replace Google services.
The site also detailed Apple’s 15-inch and 13-inch next-generation MacBook Pros, noting that it would include the Retina display technology from the iPad and iPhone, a thinner design, and faster internal components. Additionally, the site revealed that Apple’s iPad mini would look like a “larger iPod touch” and be priced at $329, which was above many analyst expectations.
The site is also known for publishing breaking news like leaked, high-resolution blueprints images of Apple’s “spaceship” campus, and important internal Apple memos such as Apple CEO Tim Cook’s letter to employees following the company’s win in court against Samsung and letter responding to claims of worker mistreatment in Apple’s supplier’s factories oversees.
In 2013, 9to5Mac continued its reporting style, breaking the news of an imminent launch of a higher-capacity version of the iPad for education and enterprise users, and by posting photographs of the back of the next-generation, yet-be-released fifth-generation iPad.

MacRumors

In 2000, MacRumors appeared as an aggregator of Mac-related rumors and reports around the Mac web. MacRumors has over 400,000 members and over 10,000,000 forum posts. In addition to providing rumors, news, and an active forum, MacRumors also broadcasts live coverage of Apple announcements via MacRumorsLive.com.
MacRumors has an Official “Internet Relay Chat” Channel where current events are discussed “Real Time”. It is also a place where many Mac users seek assistance from other users. The channel is moderated by “Operators” who provide assistance.

Others

AppleInsider, iMore, MacFixIt, Mac OS Rumors, MacScoop, ScreenCastsOnline, The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW), Think Secret, Appleunity, Cult of Mac, OS X Daily, iLounge, MacDailyNews, MacLife, MacStories, Macworld, and Patently Apple – a site reporting on Apple’s patent filings, offering a glimpse of possible future products and services from Apple.

What we see is a second industry supporting the cult image of the company. There is no other company in the electronic market which could be compared with this cult statue. On the other hand it’s the reason for being obligated to deliver new and innovative products within a short time. With the Keynote in late October, 2013, we saw many customers being disappointed about the new iPhone 5S.

Rumors and reality …

It might be interesting to monitor all the rumors published about new or improved products and to compare them with the reality. So I started to outline information about Apple products with the beginning of 2014 and summarized what was posted in the biggest community on Google+ dedicated to the brand.

The tool …

Mind maps are a perfect way to summarize information.

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Note

The image only shows rumors I found in January 2014.
The downloadable version contains rumors posted in January, February, and March.

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts HD for iPad (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited. The DOCX file format is suggested for those who don’t use a mind mapping tool. The file contains the image as well as a detailed outline of all topics.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
Apple iWork/Microsoft Office DOCX
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

I use the mind mapping tool iThoughts HD for the iPad (by Craig Scott, UK) to retrieve essential steps on the way to Apple’s next Keynote event where new products are presented by Apple’s CEO.

Variants of sharing …

iThoughts HD supports different file formats when saving maps. These are proprietary file formats of other mind mapping tools (MindManager, iMindmap, XMind, ConceptDraw, etc.) as well as formats for people who don’t use such tools (PDF, Microsoft Word DOCx, Powerpoint PPTx, etc.).

iThoughts supports hyperlinks which can be assigned to each topic. A linked topic shows a small globe which indicates a link to a website. Tapping on the globe opens the website within the integrated browser of iThoughts. So additional information can easily be accessed without leaving the app. Images breathe life into a mind map and they also can be assigned to topics. To see the details a user just has to tap and hold on the topic and the image is then displayed in a new screen.

All these features make a mind map to a powerful tool when it comes to retrieve information without moving to another app.

For people not using mind mapping tools iThoughts offers the map export in alternate, well-known file formats, e.g. DOCx, Microsoft Word’s file format for text. The generated file contains the map as an image as well as the textual information of all topics.

If opened with Apple’s Pages you will get a message about some compatibility issues.

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The mentioned issues are not important. As you can see the map and the textual information is perfectly displayed in PAGES.

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This example shows the result when exporting with the option ‘Bullets’ for hierarchical organized information.

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Summary …

Rumors are an essential part of Apple’s strategy but you never really know what’s presented on a Keynote event. The good thing is that the company never feels pressured launching unfinished products without benefits for its customers. That’s completely different from all the Asian competitors selling technology which is actually possible but often without benefits for users. A shining example for different business strategies is Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smart watch (see a noteworthy article of Jonny Evans under ‘Related links’).

Summarizing rumors is an easy task with a mind mapping tool and it’s much more attractive than presenting the information just as an article with plain text.

Related links …

iThoughts for the iPad

CES 2014 When is a smartwatch dumb?

Thanks for dropping by.


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