Reporting on future Apple products isn’t easy — it’s actually one of the biggest challenges in the world of technology journalism. Back in April 2011, The Verge’s predecessor (This Is My Next) ran a much-discussed report on the “iPhone 5,” which was claimed to be teardrop-shaped, with an enlarged, gesture-sensitive Home Button, and a bezel-less 3.7″ screen. NFC, inductive charging, and a speaker and sensors hidden behind the screen were also said to be possibilities for the new iPhone. Not surprisingly, the report lit up the Internet, generating a lot of attention (and over 500 comments) for a fledgling web site. Though some people were skeptical, accessory makers actually took the report seriously enough to manufacture cases matching the claims.
As it turned out, the report was wrong — very wrong. Exactly none of those features actually arrived in either the “iPhone 4S” Apple announced in October 2011, or the real “iPhone 5” that debuted in September 2012. The report also didn’t forecast actual iPhone design trends in any useful way. From my standpoint, that’s the critical difference between most Apple rumors and the ones that are actually worth caring about: some early information, even if it’s imprecise, can help you make a better buying decision about an Apple product today or six months down the line.
A small group of nitpickers — notably including people who are fed information directly by Apple, off-the-record — have been taking shots at people who report independently-researched rumors, attempting to undermine the value of big, “not from Apple” scoops versus small, “not (officially) from Apple” tidbits. This may be an inside baseball topic that most people really don’t care about, but it’s worth at least considering for a moment…
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