The Effect Of RDF Overdose (10/23/01)

Now, we're not going to say that we told you so, because we're better than that... and because we didn't tell you so-- at least, not en masse. But a kajillion of you wrote in begging us to look at the photos over at SpyMac which supposedly revealed Apple's groundbreaking product of the day: the iWalk. The iWalk, SpyMac would have you believe, is "a kind of PDA with a lot more features than one could have previously expected": built-in AirPort wireless networking, a built-in modem, a FireWire port, audio-in and -out ports for playing MP3s through other devices, a 512x256 16-bit color touch-screen, Newton-style handwriting recognition, and a "lite" version of Mac OS X at its core.

There's just one problem. Actually, make that two problems. The first is that this shining beacon of portable technology would probably cost about fifteen hundred bucks; then again, the Apple of old did once sell a PDA for a cool grand, so maybe that's not entirely out of character, but we fervently hope that the current administration wouldn't pull that kind of move again, especially in this economy. But the other problem is slightly more irksome: the photo posted over at SpyMac is about as convincing as, say, the average Microsoft defense witness.

Look at it; surely you've all spent enough time at the Xtrem site to know a 3D rendering when you see it, right? Pasting it into a digital photo of an iMac keyboard and adding unrealistic shadows doesn't make it look any less fake. No wonder the site pulled the earlier series of "photos," which allegedly showed the iWalk in various poses in a tiled bathroom; instead of an unrealistic 3D rendering with fake shadows, we had unrealistic 3D renderings with fake shadows, fake reflections, and the coup de grace: a lens flare straight out of Photoshop's filters list. Ooh la la.

We realize this sounds like an example of 20-20 hindsight (though at least some of you can confirm that we called those photos obvious fakes well ahead of the iPod announcement), but really, we're not passing judgment on anyone. In reality, this is less about gullibility and more of an illustration of the willing suspension of disbelief whenever Apple is involved. Heck, maybe we would have been taken in, too, if we hadn't been largely RDF-free for the past two weeks. As it stands, even "actual tech journalists" were swallowing the bait; faithful viewer Jens notes that, as of broadcast time, digitalMASS was still touting the iWalk as described by SpyMac, "an Apple information Web site." Never mind the fact that until now, no one had ever heard of SpyMac before. Consider your sources, kidlings.

So what can we learn from the SpyMac hoax? Well, mostly that Apple inspires unbounded confidence in its ability to innovate-- so much so that fans are perfectly willing to accept doctored photos and pie-in-the-sky product specs from an utterly unproven source as gospel. Do you think anyone would have believed the story if it had been Dell creating this amazing device instead of Apple? If you believe that, then you're gullible. Oh yeah, one more thing about that iWalk: the Apple logo's upside down again. D'oh!

SceneLink (3347)
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The above scene was taken from the 10/23/01 episode:

October 23, 2001: It's here, it's gear, get used to it: Apple unleashes the iPod digital audio appliance. Meanwhile, that iWalk "photo" looks a lot less convincing now that the hype level is back to normal, and Apple releases a limited number of $499 iMacs-- but you need to live in a troubled area to buy one...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3346: Attack Of The iPod People (10/23/01)   Well, we kept waiting for the punch line, but it never came: Apple's new device that's had us all speculating 'til our brains turned into warm JELL-O is the iPod: a portable digital audio player. It plays music. That's uh, about it...

  • 3348: New Cheap iMacs-- Or Not (10/23/01)   Hey, we fully realize that, particularly in this economy, not everyone has cash to burn. If you happen to be among the ranks of the financially-challenged, it's entirely possible that even that new stripped-down "entry-level" iMac is just a hair too extravagantly priced for your budget...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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