Hollywood gossip mongers have Paris Hilton and Brangelina to spread rumors about. In the tech world, we have Apple-product and Yahoo-merger rumors to mull over. And just as Brad and Angelina didn’t split in 2008 (contrary to rumors), neither did Yahoo find someone to hook up with.
Face it, everyone loves a juicy rumor. And thanks to the Internet, 2008 has been a banner year for them. As the year comes to a close, I’ve put together my top-ten list of the biggest bogus tech rumors of 2008.
10. Diggsoft or DigGoogle?
Digg was the rumor golden boy in 2008, with either Microsoft or Google rumored to buy the social-bookmarking site. The Internet blogged, Twittered, and Dugg up a storm theorizing on whom Digg founder, Kevin Rose, would end up in bed with. In the end, it was no one.
Digg never validated the rumors. A few months later TechCrunch announced that Google was negotiating with Digg, this time for $200 million. But then, after a few days, Google apparently walked away from the negotiating table, and DigGoogle joined the long list of Digg-acquisition rumors.
9. Google Phone Delayed Until 2009
I’m glad that the first Google Android phone wasn’t delayed until 2009–as it was rumored to be. On the day this rumor hatched, Google’s shares dipped 1.3 percent. The word was that HTC, the manufacturer of the T-Mobile G1, was having problems delivering the Google phone on time.
Tales of the GPhone delay started out modest. At first there weren’t enough Android developers out there, according to sources. People theorized that Microsoft, Apple, Research In Motion, and Nokia had absorbed all the developers, and so none could be bothered to make Android apps. But the rumor bomb dropped when the Wall Street Journalannounced that the first Android device would not come until the second half of 2009.
Microsoft never gave people any good reason to expect a Zune phone, but from July through December 2008, you could find various reports from The Inquirer and mock-ups from Wired of imagined Zune-phone hybrids. Closer to reality, perhaps, were rumors that the Zune might soon sport a touch screen.
The rumor is still alive and well. Currently, according to sources, the Zune phone will launch in January at CES 2009. Mike Elgan at Computerworldexplains best why that won’t really happen (at least not anytime soon): Microsoft “simply doesn’t have the vision to build something really great in the consumer electronics space.”
7. The iPhone Nano
From the category “I wish it were true” comes the idea of a smaller–and ultimately cheaper–iPhone, a rumor that has been with us all year long. First, we expected to see a miniature iPhone, dubbed the iPhone Nano, at Macworld in January 2008. That never happened. Then people hoped that 25 million iPhone Nanos would arrive in time for Christmas. That never happened.
But maybe the third time will be the charm for the iPhone Nano? The rumor du jour is that Apple will release a smaller, cheaper iPhone at Macworld in January 2009. The latest gossip comes from iDealsChina, and is based on information from a Taiwan company that makes Apple accessories.
Personally, I could do without the iPhone Nano. Think of the horror of typing on a screen almost half the size of the iPhone 3G’s. Battery life on an iPhone Nano couldn’t be better either. It just doesn’t sound right for Apple to push an inferior product. Nevertheless, collectively willing Apple to deliver an iPhone Nano could bring us an even cheaper iPhone as production costs decrease.
6. Xbox in a Blu-ray Player
Some rumors start out as merely wishful thinking. Then they become willed into full-blown rumors. Some Microsoft Xbox 360 users really wanted to play Blu-ray discs on their favorite game console. And just like that, someone came along with the wacky idea of having an Xbox 360 in a Blu-ray player.
The suggestion was to have hardware that could run Xbox 360 game discs created by a party other than Microsoft–something like the Panasonic Q, which launched in 2001 in Japan and could play both regular DVDs and GameCube games.
The rumor became quite popular on specialist blogs, even getting mentions on Engadget and Gizmodo, and it also surged on Digg, with over 1964 Diggs. My take: If third-party hardware could help prevent the Xbox 360’s red ring of death, maybe Microsoft really should consider the option.
So when the rumors grew louder about a tiny Midget PC netbook, I thought it was interesting. But maybe I should have been more critical. One telltale sign that it was bogus was its name: What company would give a product such a horrible label? Turns out, no company would.
This rumor proved to be a big hoax. A few days later ArsTechnica revealed that the Midget PC was a fake. The story was the creation of a hoaxster at a citizen-journalism site, Arkansas IndyMedia. The article used two-year-old quotes from an unrelated New York Times article and included many other fabrications to make it appear legit.
4. I Want My Mac Netbook, Now!
The Mac-netbook rumor is not a rumor anymore–it has morphed into a Mac-enthusiast campaign to get Apple to build and release a mini-notebook. The device, according to proponents, should be a cross between the iPhone and the MacBook Air.
The news Obama that used a Zune drove a bitter partisan wedge between the Apple iPod and Microsoft Zune camps. While the Zune camp celebrated what it saw as a victory, the iPod camp was outraged and wanted their votes for Obama back.
A CNN iReport stated: “Steve Jobs was rushed to the ER […] suffering a major heart attack.” Twitter was aflutter over the news. Apple stocks fell sharply to $94. Even the Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation into the iReport. In the end investigators found that an 18-year-old had spread the rumor. But shortly after the “news” broke, Apple representatives reassured everyone that Jobs was fine. And the world sighed in relief.
Have I missed any juicy rumor that made headlines this year? Tell us your thoughts on what other stories we should have included in this article, and add your comments.