The Rumour Mill – Dirty Laundry

8/30/2012 3:32:52 AM

Don’t stop the wheel, we don’t want to get off

There are two groups of people who hate Apple product launches, no matter how exciting the new Mac or mobile device that’s had its dust sheets whipped from over it as it’s revealed to an adoring public for the first time. Both are engaged in the process of guessing what Apple will do next, and spend the weeks and days prior to keynote speeches spinning like hamsters on a Red Bull and Mars bar diet (1).

Description: There are two groups of people who hate Apple product launches

There are two groups of people who hate Apple product launches

Analysts – for they are one of the groups – will tell you that the work they do is vastly different from and more important than that of the gossip and rumour-mongers – the other group. But really the only difference is that they employ more jargon to hide the fact that their ‘research notes’ are based on little more than guesswork.

When launch day arrives, suddenly there’s nothing more to spin, so they set their sights on a new target, or in this case an old and mostly forgotten one. AppleInsider has a fine example: ‘Analyst Brian White said in a note to investors on Tuesday that he has continued to hear on his trip to Taiwan that Apple plans to launch a so-called “iPad mini” this September. White began to sound the drum for a September release on Monday, when he revealed that supply chain sources indicated Apple is gearing up for what could prove to be an “exciting” month.’

Description: “iPad mini”

“iPad mini”

Now, forgive us our cynicism, but since Apple traditionally updates the iPod range and introduces a new iPhone and iOS range and introduces a new iPhone and iOS release in September, calling it an ‘exciting month’ doesn’t make you Mostradamus. But back to AppleInsider:

‘White said on Tuesday that he thinks a smaller iPad would expand Apple’s addressable market opportunity. By offering a new iPad at a lower price point, it would attract more price sensitive customers, and also offer an alternative for those who want a smaller tablet.’ See what we mean about jargon? All he actually said there was that a smaller, cheaper iPad could sell to users who wanted a smaller, cheaper iPad.

‘In particular, White believes that schools under budget constraints who cannot afford the current entry-level $399 iPad 2 might show interest in a smaller iPad. He also believes that some students might prefer to carry around a smaller and lighter iPad for classes.’

Description: iPad 2

iPad 2

Yep, the iPad is just too darn heavy for young people these days. We’ve always thought that was a major flaw in its design. Often parents will try to foist their iPad on a youngster, only to be met with cries of ‘You can’t make me! I hate that heavy thing.’

White isn’t the only one plying this iPad mini Schtick. According to AppleInsider, ‘Data from Change Wave Research showed that 14% of North American consumers (2) looking to buy a tablet would be “somewhat likely” to purchase a smaller iPad, while 3 percent indicated they are “very likely”.’

Description: Don’t stop the wheel, we don’t want to get off

Don’t stop the wheel, we don’t want to get off

Someone spent money conducting research on the potential popularity of a purely imaginary product. We’ll give the final word to Change Wave’s director of research, Dr. Paul Carton: ‘At the moment, the greatest competitive threat to the new iPad could well be the iPad mini – which doesn’t exist yet, but even if it does, it too will be made by Apple.’ And, um, if it doesn’t, it won’t.

Remote chance

There are people – we’re looking at you, Gene Munster – who are convinced Apple is making a television set. Oblivious to the fact that there’s as much money to be made hawking TVs (3) as investing in Spanish government bonds, they now take it for granted that we believe in it and have moved on to describing its features. As MacRumors recently reported:

‘White [yes, Brianagain – he had to pay for that trip to Computex somehow] believes the Apple television set will adopt several methods of interaction, most significantly including motion detection [but] will still include a remote control, which will arrive as a iPad-like touchscreen device.’

Description: the Apple television

the Apple television

Just what you’ve always wanted a TV with several different methods of interaction. In White’s own words (jargon alert!) ‘the data points during our trip indicate the Company will use a special type of motion detection technology… Also, our contacts indicate a unique remote control with a touch panel form factor.’ What, so Siri? But, but, but we were promised a Siri TV!

Still, at least a remote control the size of an iPad won’t disappear down the sofa.

The modern Stone Age SP

We’ve always liked Apple senior vice president of Worldwide marketing Philip W Schiller, or Barney (4), as he’s affectionately known, die to his uncanny resemblance to a certain Flintstones character. He’s the friendly face to Apple. (Although his minders aren’t always quite as friendly, as Channel 4 New’s Benjamin Cohen found out when he tried to ask Schiller a question that wasn’t in Apple’s script: you can see the results at

But Barney – or Deputy Dawg (5), as we also refer to him around MacUser towers, in an affectionate kind of way – is much more than just the comedy turn at Apple keynotes. He’s critical to the company’s future, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. The august US news magazine, formerly not-Bloomberg Businessweek, recently opined:

‘Since Jobs’s death in October, perhaps no Apple executive other than CEO Tim Cook is under more pressure to fill the void… Schiller has the daunting task of keeping Apple cool.’ Now, Dirty Laundry could think of many tasks that are more daunting than that, but we get the drift. And Schiller’s significance has not gone unnoticed within Apple, it seems. Businessweek reveals that he has more than one nickname inside Infinite Loop. ‘Schiller channeled Jobs’ perspective so consistently that he was known within Apple as Mini-Me. He found the nickname flattering and kept a cutout of the Austin Powers character in his office.

‘Like Jobs, he is ruthlessly disciplined [in] choosing new products or features, which has yielded another nickname: Dr. No (6), for his penchant to shoot down ideas, according to one former manager.’

Description: Remote chance - The modern Stone Age SP

Remote chance - The modern Stone Age SP

Mini-Me? Doctor No? Maybe he’s not the nice guy we thought he was. Either way, we have a lot to thanks him for. As Businessweek says: ‘It was Schiller, who came up with the spin-wheel interface on the original iPod, and he was a champion of the iPad when other executives questioned its potential.’ Wonder what he thinks about a Mini one?

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