Let’s Fact-Check Digitimes’ Apple Reporting Once Again

In which I follow up on my May 2012 story on the Taipei-based news site's famously untrustworthy Apple reporting.

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Business Insider’s Jay Yarow has a report on Digitimes, the Taipei-based tech news site which is famous above all for its Apple rumors — and the extremely spotty record thereof:

Even though DigiTimes had the story on Apple first, no one really knew whether it was trustworthy. There’s a reason its iPad 4 prediction was laughed at.

Despite a steady stream of scoops, nobody really trusts DigiTimes. In part, it’s because nobody has ever met a DigiTimes reporter. In part, it’s because DigiTimes has gotten a lot of stuff wrong.

It appears to be getting better, and if it wanted, it could establish itself as a legitimate news source. The question that’s hard to answer, though: Is that what it wants? We emailed DigiTimes for an answer, and got no response. We’re not alone. The paper seems to rarely talk outside of its own pages.

Yarow references an article I did a bit over a year ago in which I fact-checked 25 Digitimes stories about Apple. I found its record to be dismal: five of the pieces were correct or mostly correct, 16 were largely bogus and four involved future predictions I couldn’t judge at the time.

Is Digitimes, as he says, getting more trustworthy? I’m not going to try and judge the year’s worth of Apple reporting it’s provided since my first article, in part because a lot more of its content resides behind its paywall today. But I can revisit the four stories from last year’s fact-check exercise that I couldn’t rate at the time.

Let’s do that right now, shall we?

Unsettled rumor #1:

The Digitimes story: “Components for new 15-inch ultra-thin MacBook to start shipping in November,” 11/15/2011

The rumor: Apple will ship a new, thin laptop with a 15″ screen — which could be either a bigger MacBook Air or a svelter MacBook Pro — in either March or the second quarter of 2012 (the article seems to make both predictions).

Looking back: Digitimes got it right. In June — the second quarter of 2012 — Apple released the 15″ MacBook Pro with a Retina screen. It was indeed a svelter MacBook Pro.

Unsettled rumor #2:

The Digitimes story: “Apple to launch 7.85-inch iPad in 2012, say sources,” 12/16/2011

The rumor: Apple is probably going to release an iPad with a 7.85″ screen before the fourth quarter of 2012.

Looking back: Digitimes was inaccurate, but not bizarrely so. Apple didn’t release a 7.85″ iPad before the fourth quarter. But it did release a 7.9″ iPad in the fourth quarter, the Mini.

Unsettled rumor #3:

The Digitimes story: “Apple suppliers to start preparing materials for iTV in 1Q12, say sources,” 12/27/2011

The rumor: In the second or third quarter of 2012, Apple will release 32″ and 37″ TV sets.

Looking back: Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

Unsettled rumor #4:

The Digitimes story: “Apple to ship ‘iPad 3′ in March, ‘iPad 4′ in October, say Taiwan component makers,” 1/6/2012

The rumor: In March, Apple will release the “iPad 3,” which will have a 1536-by-2048 screen and longer battery life; in October, it’ll unveil the iPad 4, which will keep the 9.7″ screen but add “much improved” hardware and apps.

Looking back: Digitimes was right, or close enough. In March, it announced the “new iPad.” And in October, it announced the fourth-generation iPad, with substantially more processor and graphics muscle. (No much-improved apps, though — if fact, no new software features at all.)

Let’s recap: That’s two Digitimes stories which were mostly or completely accurate (thin Macbook and new 9.7″ iPad), one in which it was reporting on a real product but got the details wrong (7.85″ iPad) and one in which it indulged in classic Digitimes-style fantasy (two Apple HDTVs in 2012). Updating the tally from last year would give us something like seven Digitimes reports that pretty much panned out and 18 that didn’t. Not good, or even in the same zip code as good.

But again, these are all pieces from over a year ago. Maybe the site has been moving in the right direction, as it told me it would and Yarow says it is. Let’s start by seeing if Apple does releases the cheap plastic iPhone with a 4″ screen for emerging markets in the third quarter that Digitimes wrote about last month.