Apple: "iBook, ShmiBook" (5/25/01)

For those of you who just bought a new iBook, we have some good news and some better news. The good news is that you now own what is arguably the coolest, friendliest, and most useful laptop ever to grace this earth. The better news is that the rumors of a new model hitting the streets in July are completely bogus, so you won't have to feel like you're using obsolete equipment in six weeks' time. Evidently our skepticism was well-founded, because we have it on good authority that the "new iBook" that CNET and others reported based on words tumbling from the loose lips of Apple's Taiwanese manufacturing contractor is utter vapor, pure and simple.

Whose authority? Well, believe it or not, Apple's authority; according to faithful viewer Stephen White, in a rare break from long-standing policy, the company drove a stake through this rumor's heart by going on the record with MacCentral to state that "the Alpha-Top spokesperson quoted in the article was incorrect in regard to Apple's iBook plans. What he said is not true." This marks only the second or third time in recent memory that we can recall Apple officially denying a rumor; there was that time when Phil Schiller publicly denied the whole Apple handheld scenario, and also the tense moment at the Mac OS X press briefing when Steve denied that the Cube development team had been laid off. But both of those were off-the-cuff remarks made while the press was present, not prepared official statements issued by a designated "company spokesperson." This iBook denial is the real deal.

And really, it's not too hard to figure out why Apple viewed this iBook rumor as dangerous enough to warrant a public refutation: by all accounts, the new iBooks are selling extremely well, and rumors of a newer model due to hit the shelves in six weeks could easily derail its sales momentum. Imagine what would happen if even one out of ten potential customers decided to wait a couple of months for that nonexistent better model; Fred Anderson probably went fetal at the thought. Hence, Apple's official policy is evidently never to comment on rumors-- unless said rumor is really, really, bad.

Nevertheless, it's hard to believe that Alpha-Top was flat-out lying to the press about Apple's new wider-screen, different-colors iBook; it seems far likelier that the spokesperson was just clueless and/or confused about Apple's product line. Of the kajillion and twelve email messages we received on the subject, roughly a kajillion of them were from viewers who surmise that Alpha-Top was really talking about a slightly-revised PowerBook G4, which has long been rumored to gain anodized color choices this summer. The remaining dozen or so figure that the "wider screen," "choice of colors" iBook is actually the next-generation, LCD-sporting iMac we're all hoping for in July. Only time will solve that riddle, but one thing is for sure: if you're planning on buying an iBook (like, say, for the producers of your favorite online soap opera?), there's no reason to wait. Buy two; they're small.

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The above scene was taken from the 5/25/01 episode:

May 25, 2001: So much for that "new new iBook" rumor-- Apple broke with tradition and squelched it outright. Meanwhile, Mac OS X gears up for an imminent bump to version 10.0.5, and Microsoft, in yet another disturbing moment of lucidity, admits that its "Snitch For Prizes" program was "stupid"...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3074: Closer, But Still No Cigar (5/25/01)   Heads up, "early adopters"-- the word around the water cooler is that Apple's gearing up for yet another installment in its popular series of Mac OS X updates, and that said update may broadcast sometime today...

  • 3075: Microsoft: Know Thyself. (5/25/01)   Is it just us, or is Microsoft displaying an uncharacteristically high amount of self-awareness these days? First they come to realize that "Clippy," their automated assistant in Office for Windows, is annoying (gee, really?)...

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