As the “MacRumors guy”, I take rumors very seriously. One common misconception that appears again and again is the lack of distinction between “Rumor” and “Speculation”.
I find it surprising that I need to spell out this distinction, but it’s a recurrent source of confusion on the Mac web.
In November 2006, I got a call from a reporter writing about the building iPhone hype and was specifically questioned about the rumors that Apple might sell the iPhone as an “unlocked” phone and allow customers to simply use their own SIM cards. Perhaps I was being pedantic, but I responded by saying that this was not actually a rumor. Instead, I said that this was just one person’s opinion on what Apple could do.
To be fair, the reporter was not the only one who thought this was a legitimate rumor. The “rumor” was popularized by a digg.com article entitled Apple iPhone to be sold ‘UNLOCKED'(?)..Apple Marketing thinks Different which points to a blog entry on Black Friars Inc entitled Apple thinks different about marketing iPhones. In the blog entry, the author wrote:
One of the rather interesting marketing aspects I’ve read about is the idea that the iPhone won’t be tied to any specific carrier. Instead, it will be sold “unlocked”, requiring you to insert a GSM subscriber identity (SIM) card.
The story/idea was also picked up and posted on TUAW under the title Rumor: Apple iPhone could be sold unlocked?.
Tracking back the source of this information (not linked from Black Friars) leads us to a Jupiter Research’s brainstorming article where the author presents 4 possible options for Apple to market a phone, and even points out that “only the first three have been seriously debated by Apple watchers”:
1. Continue licensing software to established handset vendors
2. Create its own iPod mobile phone handset and sell via mobile operators
3. Apple could chose to bypass current operators by launching one or more MVNOs
4. Apple could sell its iPod mobile phone in retail – Consumers would just slot in an existing SIM and have a working combination device.
The last item in this four item list about what Apple could do ended up spawning a prominent rumor that Apple might seriously be considering selling an unlocked phone.
To me the distinction between rumors and speculation is clear. Rumors have a legitimate (albeit small) chance of being true. Rumors come from individuals who claim to have actual inside knowledge about these happenings. (Whether or not these individuals are reliable or not is the whole focus of MacRumors.com)
Meanwhile, speculation can range from educated guessing to wild dreams. You might as well put “Dear Santa, I want…” in front of any speculative opinion.
At MacRumors we keep this distinction clear, and generally avoid purely speculative opinions on what Apple should/could do.