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Macworld San Francisco 2008 Rumor Wrapup: Winners and Losers
As always, rumors closer to the event tend to be more accurate and more revealing than those in the months ahead. In this case, many of the details of the MacBook Air were spot on, though many of these details were revealed in the week leading up to the event.
Our own MacBook Air Whispers article confirmed some long standing details, including a 13.3" screen, external optical drive, and was the first to dub the machine the "MacBook Air". Our other hints also suggested the use of a 1.8" hard drive, an ethernet dongle due to the slim size of the upcoming laptop, and the inclusion of a multitouch trackpad -- all of which also turned out to be true.
Finally, an actual description of the MacBook Air leaked out the night before the Keynote on Wired's Gadget Blog, with a description of an "unbelievably thin" design with tapering edges.
Meanwhile, the longer standing rumors for the ultra-portable MacBook came from multiple sources which were summarized in our Ultra-portable Rumor Roundup. In the end, Appleinsider provided the most accurate description: 13", aluminum, 50% lighter, Slim, NAND Flash, LED backlit, No Optical Drive. NAND flash ended up being an optional feature, but the remainder of the report as well as long lead time made their report particularly impressive.
Of note, CNBC's rumors of the ultra-portable Mac were far less accurate, despite being a mainstream news site. CNBC's Jim Goldman had cited "a very good source" and described a 12" model with NAND Flash only at $1500 -- all of which were wrong.
Other honorable mentions include 9to5mac's "something strange about the touchpad", and MacScoop's early ultra-portable report. Also of interest is a report coming out of CrunchGear in October claiming that Apple would be releasing Multitouch trackpad MacBooks. Despite the wrong timeframe, with the release of a Multitouch trackpad, we should give credit to this early rumor.
Despite much speculation of a possible Apple TV update, few credible rumors of what to expect from an Apple TV upgrade came out in the weeks ahead of Macworld. Businessweek was the only one to suggest that the Apple TV would see a major upgrade but no details or timeframe was provided. CrunchGear, however, did claim in that HD content was coming to the Apple TV (though they claimed October).
FinancialTimes, Variety and Businessweek served as the major sources of information about Apple's new movie rental service. Word first leaked out in June with reports that Apple was negotiating terms for iTunes movie rentals. Subsequent reports pinpointed the $3.99/24 hour rental window as well as the wide participation of many studios.
One of the biggest Apple leaks leading into this year's Macworld was the leak of the iPhone 1.1.3 firmware which was revealed by GearLive. As always, the leaked video and screenshots generated the usual doubts, but it turned out to be quite accurate. This leak of pre-release firmware is the biggest Apple leak in recent history.
Meanwhile, MacScoop's widely publicized rumor that 1.1.3 would get Copy/Paste functionality turned out to be inaccurate. And CNET France's early claim 1.1.3 would contain Disk Mode and Voice Recording was also wrong.
Winners: Digitimes 13.3" LED Screens, American Tech Research Analyst: an external HDD storage/dock/streaming device
Losers: American Tech Research Analyst: Blu Ray at Macworld, All "leaked" keynote claims, All "leaked" spy shots.
Unlikely now: Goldman Sachs Analyst: Apple TV with LCD screen
Dedicated Apple rumors sites such as MacRumors and Appleinsider continue to provide the most accurate look at what's to come from Apple, though an expanding number of sites are able to fill in many additional details. Wired's Gadget Lab deservers particular credit for leaking an actual description of the Air the evening prior. Patent applications can certainly point the way to what Apple might be working on (multitouch) but should not be taken for granted (iMac docking station). Anonymously leaked transcripts and photos remain almost always fake.
What's to Come: MacBook Pros, Mini Tablet
In looking back at the sources of the most accurate rumors, we also find enticing reports of items that didn't come true at Macworld, but did come from credible sources.
The MacBook Pro updates are certainly coming -- and soon. Even without our rumor sources, the MacBook Pros are simply due for refresh. But the most interesting tidbit is that there have been reliable reports that the Pro machines will incorporate Apple's new multi-touch trackpad.
Given Appleinsider's accuracy with their ultra-portable report, it is increasingly likely that we will see a mini-tablet device coming from Apple. Apple is said to be working on a multi-touch OS X device about 1.5x the size of the iPhone with a 720x480 screen. Initial reports had suggested the possibility of a Macworld launch, but was delayed and may instead be seen later this year.