The Last Mac-Rumor Article You Should Read

"You lose it if you talk about it."

Ernest Hemingway

A paraphrased conversation between a city-government employee and a newspaper reporter, as the former points a gun at the latter; the reporter had written a column that damaged the city employeeis career?

City worker: "Iim nobody. I didnit do anything to anybody. Why did you have to write such bad things about me?"

Reporter (shrugging his shoulders): "It was your turn."

From "The Paper" (a movie)

Bashing Mac rumor sites is as natural as, and as common as, kicking your cat. Both are easy targets, ripe for venting the dayis frustrations, and regardless of how inhumane the acts are, you canit help but feel better afterwards.

Come on; admit it. You surf the rumor sites as much as the next guy, viewing those purveyors of any gossip related to Appleis upcoming products and projects -- hell, whatis reported doesnit even have to be true, if the sitesi track records mean anything. Itis an exercise in jocularity to see what the sites have to say as we lead up to, say, a MACWORLD Expo, and then see where they got it wrong -- keeping in mind that even a blind squirrel will occasionally find a nut.

Why am I picking on the rumor mongers today? Oh, I donit know. I guess itis because, for the millionth time, as I worked in the Mac section this past weekend selling computers, customers were asking me when the flat-panel iMacs were going to ship.

If I wore a mood ring that day, itid have been continually black. If I had a dollar every time? Hell, if I had a penny? Oh, my poor liil kitty was cowering in fear when I made it home.

Anyway, I was sitting here thinking about Mac rumors, as a result of the above, particularly, how the Mac community gets all hot and bothered over the slightest noises made by the usual suspects in the rumor-mongering contingent. Hey, I like the rumors as much as the next guy, but it really burns me when I lose a sale because of some Mac boy who comes in swearing that the Apple PDA/Internet appliance/Intel-inside computer will be shipping any day now.

Itis not proper to grab such people by the collar and shout at them for being so stupid to believe -- and promulgate -- that crap. However, it is apropros to make comment on the nature of rumors and how to view them, with the hopes that I will save some soul from the perdition of rumor mongering.

So, I decided to put together a little common-sensical statement on future Apple products. If you sell Macs for a vocation (or an avocation, if youire like me), you have my permission to print this page out, paste Super Glue ? on its back side and slap it onto the forehead of every customer that dares to ask you about the (fill-in-the-blank with the name of some Mac rumor youive heard) while youire trying to sell another customer something that Apple currently ships:

  • Principle #1: Forrest Gump can figure out that Apple will ship a flat-paneled iMac (theyive flat-out said so). So, you donit have to spend your time trying to enthrall the sales guy with your Mac-rumor acumen.
  • Principle #2: If it ainit shipping, itis vaporware.
  • Principle #3: if it ainit shipping, shut up talking about it in public. Refer to #2.
  • Principle #4: the typical Mac sales guy, if he is worthy of bearing the name "Mac user," probably reads the same yellow-journals on the Web that you do, so youire not doing him any favors with unsolicited offers to "bring him up to speed" on the latest dope.
  • Principle #5: Remember this -- the average rumor site is probably run by a kid with an ISP and a wild hair to print anything that anyone will send to iem. Truth isnit a pre-requisite.
  • Principle #6: All you have to do is look at Appleis promotions to get a clue about upcoming products. Letis see? there is a CD-RW in every Mac except the PowerBook. Apple has a special giving a free CD-RW drive with the PowerBook, ending in September. There are several "Apple events" coming up over the next year. I donit even have a Mac rumor site, and I can see that one. Extrapolate, guys and gals, extrapolate.
  • Principle #7: Apple practices misdirection sometimes. Remember the "Eight-Ball," the black iMac (that appeared in a Will Smith video, Iim told)? It was rumored to ship, but never happened (Iim still waiting for one, dammit). Ditto for the iMacs in school-spirit colors, as reported by one rumor site. Ditto for the iBook with the wind-up power source. Fiveill get you ten that Apple management planted those rumors and probably laughed long and hard as they congratulated themselves for duping the rumor sites once again. Donit you fall for it.
  • Principle #8: does the current crop of Macs do what you need and want to do? Buy one, then, you ninny!

You seem like a bright group, so I wonit belabor the obvious; eight points are enough. The key is that anyone can figure out what Apple is doing, if they would only sit and think long enough. For example, let me predict: next year, the PowerBooks, PowerMacs, iMacs and iBooks will be faster, will have more features and will be shipping with a faster, better version of OS X -- and for good measure, let me throw in the fact that Apple will introduce a new product or two. And while Iim on a roll, Detroit will ship new cars with added gadgetry like GPS on board. The sun will rise tomorrow. It may rain tomorrow; then again, it may not. I will get paid next week. You get my drift?

I guess I should apologize. Iive had to deal all weekend with the customers Iive described herein, who purport to know everything about the Mac vis-?-vis rumors. I can handle that normally, but, for some reason, I was in a kick-the-cat kinda mood. Maybe it was due to the fact that all of them had a rumor they wanted to talk about, but no one bought anything. Maybe itis the capitalist in me, but when Iim selling, I donit always want to be bothered if youire not buying. Damned rumors?

I should hasten to repeat that I keep up with the Mac rumors just as much as the next guy, but I donit put all of may faith in them. Itis called "getting a life." I think that would be a good idea for some of you, too. This has been a Public Service Announcement.

Iim sure there are several Mac sales people in that corner over there, shouting "Amen!"

Rodney O. Lain is just mad because, on August 20, it will have been one month since his PowerBook G3 breathed its last. As recommended by his psychiatrist, he writes TMO editorials and his "iBrotha" column as cathartic therapy. He lives in Minnesota, a state that probably has more mental-health facilities, per capita, than any other state in the Union. In spite of the insanity, rumor has it that he is actually a nice guy.