Now that the WWDC keynote has taken place, let’s look back at the past couple months of wild-eyed speculation surrounding what Apple was supposed to have announced at the event. We know already what new stuff Apple actually announced at WWDC… or launched the same day without fanfare.
- Spec bumps on the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro
- A new 15-inch MacBook Pro with a Retina Display
- A new AirPort Express
- A new Smart Case for the iPad
- Thunderbolt adapters for both Firewire 800 and Ethernet
- A new MagSafe adapter
- An extremely minor refresh of the Mac Pro
- Dictation support in Mountain Lion
- US$19.99 price and July launch for Mountain Lion
- Expanded language and nation support for Siri in iOS 6
- Siri on the new iPad
- New Maps application in iOS 6
- Facebook integration in iOS 6
There were many more things hauled out before the keynote crowd at WWDC and onto the Apple Store, but those were arguably the biggest new things announced. Let’s see what the various rumor sites managed to get right.
MacRumors and its sources made the following correct predictions:
- 17-inch MacBook Pro discontinued
- Unreleased MacBook Pros showing up in benchmarks
- Leaked 13″ MacBook Pro specs suggest only minor changes
- iOS 6 drops support for iPad and third-gen iPod touch
AppleInsider’s sources got a total of two things right — oddly enough, both sources are infamous for being wrong much of the time.
- Gene Munster expected a Mac refresh in June
- DigiTimes finally got one right when it predicted the same thing
BGR managed to get exactly one of its “breaking exclusives” correct when it showed leaked photos and mockups of the new Maps app for iOS 6. Meanwhile, MG Siegler correctly reported wide-ranging Facebook integration in iOS 6.
9to5 Mac’s shotgun approach gained it the highest number of accurate rumors by far. However, it’s worth noting that all but one of these accurate rumors came out within the past week, and most of them within the past couple of days. The site’s only long-term rumor that eventually paid off was the 15″ Retina Display MacBook Pro.
- Correctly predicted 15″ Retina Display MacBook Pro with impressive accuracy
- Siri for iPad 3
- Do Not Disturb, Safari iCloud Tabs, and Mail VIPs in iOS 6
- Evidence for Facebook integration in iOS 6
- iPad Smart Case
- MacBook Pro Retina Display hardware specs
- MacBook Air hardware specs
Before you get the impression that 9to5 Mac has an impressive accuracy rate for rumors (or read a post on the site boasting to that effect), take a look at the list of things that site and others like it got wrong.
First, a few rumors that were sort of right in the end:
AppleInsider cited an analyst predicting the demise of the 17-inch MacBook Pro. Unfortunately for the site’s already shaky accuracy, that same analyst predicted a 13-inch Retina Display MacBook would launch. Another of AppleInsider’s favorite analysts was one for three on his predictions; Apple did indeed launch its own Maps app, but analyst predictions of upgraded Camera and Photos apps failed to pay off.
The Wall Street Journal, like many other sources, expected far more extensive Mac updates than actually took place today. Notably, its sources claimed new iMacs were launching at WWDC. That didn’t happen.
9to5 Mac expected Mac Pro updates alongside spec-bumped MacBook Pros, a new AirPort Express, and a new USB SuperDrive. All of that happened except for the Mac Pro upgrades; while the Mac Pro received an extremely modest refresh, it was far from the upgrades 9to5 Mac expected. The site also predicted redesigns for the iTunes Store and App Store on iOS, but its predictions of a redesigned iBookstore were incorrect.
Now it’s time for the lengthy list of rumors that were just flat-out wrong.
- Redesigned Liquidmetal iPhone debuts at WWDC
- Foxconn taking orders for Apple TV
- Apple to demo new TV OS at WWDC
- Apple “iTV” intro set for WWDC
- Apple to introduce TV SDK at WWDC
No one in their right mind expected new iPhones at WWDC this year, and not one of BGR’s claims about the Apple HDTV came remotely close to coming true.
- AppleCare training points to June Mountain Lion Launch
- Apple plans to launch $799 MacBook Air
- Apple manufacturing first batch of HDTVs
- Apple to unveil entirely new MacBook series at WWDC
- Apple to refresh most of its Mac lineup at WWDC
AppleInsider’s habit of citing analysts and DigiTimes as legitimate sources didn’t do the site’s credibility any favors. All of these analysts’ predictions were wildly off the mark; DigiTimes was, as usual, laughably wrong.
- Apple to update most of its Mac lineup at WWDC
- Apple to finally revamp Mac Pro
- Unlikely new MacBook Pro specs label surfaces (was entirely faked, but apparently still good enough to post)
Alongside its fellow rumor sites, 9to5 Mac continually evangelized about forthcoming updates to the Mac Pro lineup. Instead, the Mac Pro’s first upgrade in two years wasn’t worth writing home about at all. The site also repeatedly echoed claims of a 13-inch MacBook Pro with a Retina Display and a new iMac — claims which will probably fall down the memory hole when the site writes its own post-WWDC report card.
Over the past couple of months, a massive influx of rumors surrounding supposed software and hardware updates at WWDC swirled through the echo chambers of the Apple rumor sites. However, with vanishingly few exceptions, only the tiniest percentage of rumors that came out more than a week before WWDC turned out to be true.
BGR had the worst record by a wide margin, with only a single accurately-sourced story relating to WWDC. None of its predictions about the Apple HDTV came true; keep that in mind the next time the site writes about the product.
AppleInsider’s over-reliance on industry analysts (which the site now daftly calls “insiders”) and its insistence on continuing to take DigiTimes seriously renders the site’s track record as poor at best.
MacRumors, to its credit, has stopped citing DigiTimes as far as I can tell. The site still sources from most of the same analysts as everyone else, however, making its overall track record only marginally better than the already low average.
9to5 Mac does seem to have some well-placed sources feeding it information on iOS features and hardware specs. However, whatever sources it relied upon for information on the Mac Pro were wildly inaccurate. The high accuracy of the rumors 9to5 Mac does actually get right strongly suggests its sources work within Apple. If Tim Cook follows through on his promise to “double down” on secrecy, 9to5 Mac can expect its only accurate sources to dry up quite soon.
The lessons from the past couple months of rumors are obvious.
- The farther out from the event, the less likely the rumor is to be true.
- Analysts have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to Apple, and they are not worth sourcing for stories. That goes double for publications like DigiTimes and “sources in the Asian supply chain.”
- The closer we get to an Apple event, the higher the number of rumors overall, and the higher the chances some of them will be true.
- The most accurate leaks are likely coming from within Apple itself.
- The Apple HDTV does not exist. Give up the hunt, Ahab.