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Nothing But Net: iRumors

I’ve written “NBN” in the same format for almost a year and a half now—take something from Digg or Apple’s trailer website, make up a story, insert off-color jokes and, at some point, reference whatever’s in the accompanying picture. And I get paid to do that. How jealous are you right now? Well that ship has set sail: Presenting the new “NBN.” And let the hate mail begin.


Cupertino, Calif. is the home of Apple, Inc., the company responsible for the iPod, iPhone and plenty of other revolutionary gadgets and technologies. But come January 27, it will announce something so revolutionary you’ll need a new word to describe how revolutionary it is.


Oh, you didn’t hear? It’s a tablet computer device. It will have a high-resolution touchscreen of undetermined size, be completely controlled with gestures, browse the Internet, play games, save the newspaper and print media industry, double as an umbrella when it rains and solve world hunger.

Or so sayeth the Internet. And oh, does   the Internet sayeth.

Apple actually hasn’t announced it is unveiling a tablet device. Nor has it announced it is working on a tablet device. And up until Monday hadn’t even announced it was having a media event. But the Internet has been whispering about an Apple tablet literally for years, and the Jan. 27 date had been rumored for months. Rumors on the Internet are like fireworks going off in a rainforest—they will catch on, and when they do they will spread like hellfire.

That’s even moreso with Apple. To say Apple has a “relationship” with the public is to beg for use of quotation marks, because it doesn’t have one. Apple doesn’t even treat those with a vested interest in it well—it fires employees for speaking to the media and routinely spreads false information to try and smoke out moles. It grossly underestimates quarterly earnings and gives zero insight to shareholders on future products. Nobody knew Jobs had a liver transplant until two months after it was done.

You and I see Apple like the Wizard of Oz: an omnipresent corporation, working in secrecy and occasionally stepping out from behind the curtain to throw a new iPod our way. And the Internet loves it. Who cares who is reporting it and where it came from? This is the Internet! Accuracy and truthfulness are measured in pageviews and CPM. Did you know the next-generation iPhone will have a unicorn detector? You didn’t? Well my sister’s friend’s brother’s plumber’s father-in-law plays in a bowling league with a guy who works for Apple, and he said he saw something related to the next iPhone that started with the letter “U.” Throw that tidbit on a website and you’ll get a million visitors within hours.

There have been reports that Apple leaks info to the media, but that’s just another rumor. The only hints the company drops are inadvertent ones from patent filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). They’re vaguely worded, cover broad spectrums of ideas and, thanks to the lengthy delay between when patents are filed and published by the USPTO, are dated before anyone knows they exist. All fuel to further any rumors, but frankly, the U.S. patent system is such a mess that even Apple probably doesn’t know what its patents cover.

None of this matters, though—the phrase “Apple tablet” has more than 15,000,000 results on Google. And to reiterate—this is a product that does not exist. But hang on a second, says the first results page from said search. A “source” confirmed the tablet exists to Business Week. And a patent filing says it will be called the iPad. And “sources” say it will tap Verizon for wireless data. Unsubstantiated? You bet, but in a culture where people think you’re wordy for using all 140 characters in a tweet, nobody wants to dig deeper. It’s much quicker to read headlines, IM a friend to partially convey what you partially read and watch a video of a cat with an ice cream carton stuck on its head.

There is a good chance Jan. 27 will bring the mythical tablet—there was a very similar frenzy of speculation three years ago before the iPhone was unveiled in January of 2007. But if the Apple tablet iThing is introduced there will be nothing left to speculate about. That leaves a huge hole in the imaginations of rumor addicts. And it’s just as well, because I just heard a tip on what Apple’s planning after the tablet…

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“Where are the movie trailers?!” “Where are the Kirstie Alley jokes?!” “Where are the satellite photos of Earth?!” I know, I know. Sit down. Let’s talk about this. Sometimes, people change. They start growing hair on their bodies…what? Sorry, lost my train of thought.

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