The iOSphere glowed as a delicious rumor of a "leaked" photo of the iPhone 6 motherboard flared into life. And then, alas, collapsed like a black hole sucking everything down into destruction and darkness.
But there was a new rumor that the iPhone 6 would be able to remotely play games on the awesome upcoming Sony PlayStation 4 and renewed rumor, based mainly on good vibes, that Apple will launch the iCheapo phone.
You read it here second.
"It's been a tough and long road but we finally made it here."
~ Anonymous author, iOSdoc.com, describing the arduous process of listening to an anonymous but "very reliable" source talk about a blurry photo he'd obtained, purporting to be the iPhone 6 motherboard, and writing a post about it, blissfully unaware of how tougher and longer the road would become when the photo shortly after was exposed as a fake.
iPhone 6, or 5S, whatever, with quad-core A7 CPU
A website called iOSDoc trumpeted what it called "exclusive" photos, from a "very reliable source who confirmed [for] us many of the old rumors," of the Next iPhone's motherboard, complete with a brand-spanking-new quad-core A7 CPU.
"It's been a tough and long road but we finally made it here," said the original anonymous post, making it sound almost as if they'd manufactured the motherboard themselves by hand.
[IPHONEYS: The iPhone 6 & iPhone 5S edition]
Not long after the original post, the road got a lot tougher and a lot longer, when questions were raised about whether the photo was Photoshopped. IOSDoc has since retracted the story, admitting that the A7 rumor was a fake and wondering "how did we get into this situation."
Those who live by rumor, die by rumor.
They did come up with an answer to how they got into this situation: it was Apple's fault. "During this process we found out that Apple engineers are sometimes given some pieces of information through unofficial sources that are usually fake, but sometimes are true too," according to iOSDoc.
They can't quite seem to make up their minds about whether the rumor they posted really is more fake than the run-of-the mill rumor or not. "The engineer we got the photo from admitted that he received it through a company email....but according to him, some other engineers are being investigated because the information attached to the photo is real...." But they can't discount every other possibility, such as "it's possible that an Apple employee faked the photo by himself in order to make a prank."
Pranksters? Online? What does it say about the depths to which we have sunk when one can no longer trust rumors?
Here's the original All-too-Briefly Shining Former Marvel that promised so much, from the original post.
The blurriness of the image heightens the sense of authenticity, not to mention intrigue. We can picture the nervous but very reliable source, glancing furtively over his shoulder amid a bustling Foxconn assembly plant manned by bleary-eyed laborers, as he hastily snaps what seems to be one, as in 1 as in single or solitary or unitary or unique, photograph, without apparently the benefit of an autofocus camera.
"As you can see," iOSDoc announces with unintentional humor, "the motherboard is pretty much similar to the one iPhone 5 uses, which proves that the iPhone 5S will keep the size and 4-inch display. So do not expect a bigger display, at least not for now."
Proof positive, without a doubt. And we're not expecting. Not now. Not after we have proof.
The "A7" chip is "clocked at 1.2Ghz" and runs iOS 7, which "will also come with a highly improved Siri, able to 'do a lot of new cool stuff.' Unfortunately our source didn't want to speak very much about this aspect."
This is typical of anonymous sources. They seem to be fountains, indeed geysers, of information. Then, inexplicably they just clam up. And none of the rumor news sites seem to ask these guys, "How come?"
The Next iPhone "should also come with a RAM improvement," according to iOSDoc, basically doubling RAM to 2GB.
9to5Mac blew up the blur even more, making it even burrier but bigger, and concluded, in a tweet, that there were a "Lot of un-natural pixels" in it. Other tweets, from 9to5 and its followers, expanded on this: "the 7 doesnt look like it is of the same font as the A and it appears to not lineup properly (top to bottom) with the A. Fake." "Kerning on the A7 letters looks wrong, the 7 is too close to the A." And "my daughter has better Photoshop skills."
Although after reading a bunch of these comments, they start to sound like they're assuming their conclusion and one wonders just how expert are their own Photoshop and kerning skills.
Christian Zibreg at iDownloadBlog was skeptical in his post, but of course that didn't stop him from posting about it. On iOSDoc's confident assertions, Zibreg complained "That's a lot of speculation right there" from a "web site with an unestablished track record."
"[W]e wouldn't otherwise pay attention if it weren't for a slow news day due to President's Day in the United States," he informed his readers. His point was underscored by his post's headline: "Likely doctored photo claims to depict iPhone 5S motherboard with A7 processor"
That seems to mean "we're telling you about a photograph that's probably a counterfeit because it's claiming to show details of something, which if were not counterfeit, you'd be legitimately interested in."
Meanwhile iOSdoc is keeping a positive attitude. "We will investigate further and hopefully we will be able to find out if Apple does indeed try to send fake information through the company in order to catch the "leaker." Fortunately we now have more contacts than ever and we've managed to talk to a lot of people after the doctored photo went viral, which helps us during this process."
Meanwhile, even the skeptics of the photo are not very skeptical about the imminent arrival of a 2013 iPhone with a quad-core processor, oversimplifying both the benefits and tradeoffs of such a move.
iPhone 6 will have an exclusive Sony PlayStation 4 app
The degree of thrill one experiences reading that will depend on how much you love mobile gaming or PlayStation, or both.
We arrive at this rumor through the convoluted and deeply obscure process of Rumor Parthenogenesis: ignorance (willful or otherwise), poor grammar skills, reason-occluding zeal, and other vices and handicaps cause a fact to spontaneously develop, or mutate, in new rumor directions.
We begin where the rumor ended, with Examiner.com's Steven Ruygrok, whose post carried the revealing headline, "PlayStation 4 to feature app on iPhone 6 and other iterations (Photos)"
"The PlayStation 4 has just been revealed by Sony and it now looks like there will be an exclusive PlayStation app that will be coming to mobile devices such as the iPhone 6," he declares, already modifying the headline, but making sure he works in a second reference to "iPhone 6" for search engine optimization.
"According to a report from Sony Rumors on Wednesday, the PlayStation 4 will be utilizing a new phone app that can integrate with a home PS4," Ruygrok writes, blissfully unaware of the hilarity of talking about a "report" from a site with "rumors" in its name.
"Sony did not unveil everything on Wednesday, nor should they have done so, and this apparently seems to be one of the items that was left off the docket," he concludes. As we know, the iOSphere abhors a vacuum, or an unfilled docket.
"Sure Sony talked about taking the PlayStation 4 and its arsenal of games beyond the console but only hints of tablet and smartphone functionalities were shown," Osati groused. "When the tablet was shown, it was, unsurprisingly, a Sony tablet. This of course begged the question, were Sony's ambitions limited to Android or would they also offer the extended experience via the PlayStation app to the most popular platform in the world, iOS, which encompasses the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch?"
But apparently Sony didn't beg the question but answered it, rather forthrightly, in the press release for its announcement Feb. 20 in New York City of the upcoming PlayStation 4 game console. BGR puts it into context: with PS4, Sony will enable "second screens" - permitting other mobile devices, including Sony's own 5-inch PlayStation Vita handheld to wirelessly display and play a game running on the console.
As part of this, according to the press release, "A new application from [Sony] called "PlayStationApp" will enable iPhone, iPad, and Android based smartphones and tablets to become second screens. Once installed on these devices, users can, for example, see maps on their second screens when playing an adventure game, purchase PS4 games while away from home and download it directly to the console at home, or remotely watch other gamers playing on their devices."
PlayStationApp might even run on the iPhone 5 or even the iPhone 4S. So we traveled from Sony's partial introduction of its next generation game player to its general, platform-agnostic, mobile second screen plan, to the unannounced iPhone 6.
No wonder we're exhausted.
iPhone 6 or whatever it's called will be a cheaper iPhone
The latest version of this rumor is, apparently, fueled by Katy Huberty's good feelings after meeting with Peter Oppenheimer.
Huberty is a stock analyst with Morgan Stanley; Oppenheimer is Apple's CFO. Apparently, they met recently, and afterwards Huberty, taking word processor to content management system, crafted another of those Note to Investors (NTI) so beloved by the iOSphere.
The RumorNews sites that picked up on her NTI apparently were struck by the Warm Fuzzy Feelings of Confidence that filled Huberty as she emerged from her meeting.
As posted by Business Insider's Jay Yarrow, Huberty wrote the following: "We also see several signs that a lower priced iPhone makes sense:
1) iPad Mini is expanding Apple's customer base with 50% of purchases in China/Brazil representing new customers to the ecosystem.
2) Chinese consumers show a desire to purchase the latest version of iPhone (instead of discounted older generations).
3) iPhone 4 demand surprised to the upside in the December quarter. Even at a low 40% gross margin and one-third cannibalization rate, we see an "iPhone Mini" as incremental to revenue and gross profit dollars."
Huberty seems to be assuming in 1) that iPhone buyers, or prospective buyers, will behave in the same way, and perhaps for the same reasons, as those buying the smaller iPad tablet. What she doesn't establish or at least Yarrow doesn't excerpt is anything that indicates that iPad mini buyers are driven mainly by price - they want an iPad but they want a cheaper iPad. Maybe what they really want is a smaller iPad and they're willing to pay $329 for it.
Number 2 and number 3 seem to contradict each other: in 2, Huberty sees evidence that Chinese buyers want the latest iPhone - iPhone 5 - rather than the older discounted iPhone models. But in 3, she is surprised that iPhone 4 demand was as strong as it was. Perhaps she interprets these two points as evidence that consumers want a cheap new iPhone rather than a discounted older iPhone model.
At 9to5Mac, Jordan Kahn picked up on Yarrow's post, re-interpreting it somewhat to announce that Huberty "issued a note to clients today claiming she is even more confident Apple will introduce a low-cost iPhone following a meeting with Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer."
Nowhere is Huberty quoted as talking about exactly what she talked about with Oppenheimer, or what he actually said to her. Judging from what we've seen, and heard, from him on several Apple quarterly earnings phone conferences, the answer is "not much."
Apple could eventually start to segment the iPhone market as it has done with the iPad and has done historically with the iPod product line. But the iPod seems to have been viewed as a specialized device - something to store and play music from iTunes. The iPhone is a general purpose mobile computer with the ability to make cellular voice calls. There is a market for low-cost or at least lower-cost smartphones. It's not yet clear that it's a market that Apple wants or needs to play in.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.