Last Year’s Apple Rumors? Mostly Bogus [Update]

Analysts and "supply chain" sources keep on getting it wrong.

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Jonathan Alcorn / Reuters

Black Friday shoppers walk past an Apple Store inside the Glendale Galleria in Glendale, California November 29, 2013.

Thanks to Chris Rawson at TUAW, we now have a thorough body of evidence to prove that the majority of Apple rumors shouldn’t be trusted. (Or at least a significant number. See the update at the bottom of this piece.)

Rawson, apparently at the provocation of 9to5Mac editor Mark Gurman, combed through every 9to5Mac rumor post from 2013 to determine how many were accurate:

The tl;dr summary of 9to5 Mac’s 2013 track record:

  • 73 rumor articles turned out to be true, and 30 of those were derived from their original sources
  • 91 rumor articles turned out to be either partially or entirely inaccurate, or else completely unverifiable

That gives them an overall accuracy record of just under 45 percent. You’d do better by flipping a coin.

Although Rawson was settling a quarrel with 9to5Mac, there’s no need to pick on that particular publication. The practice of regurgitating rumors without skepticism from industry analysts, “supply chain sources” and the notoriously inaccurate DigiTimes is far too common among tech blogs. (To 9to5Mac’s credit, the site contributed mightily to the number of accurate Apple rumors last year with its own original reporting, but drowned out its stellar track record with all the bogus stuff from other sources.)

Here at TIME Tech, we like to occasionally remind you that Apple rumors can be pure nonsense, and treat most of them with skepticism. But we’re not infallible. For instance, I was too lenient on KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo because of his accurate track record in 2012. Rawson rightly shreds Kuo to pieces for a year full of crazy predictions. Kuo’s no longer looking much better than Peter Misek and Gene Munster, both of whom continue to get press despite a long history of being wrong.

So let this be a learning experience for us all as we head into 2014, a year that will surely bring even more inaccurate reporting about non-existent Apple products.

Update: Some have suggested that the results above are unfairly skewed because Rawson, by his own admission “wasn’t feeling particularly charitable” in his analysis. So I decided to take a more charitable approach and disregard any rumor posts that are simply unverifiable. For instance, some claims won’t be proven true or false until 2014 or later, or are murky claims about Apple supply inventory that will never be verified. Others are just opinion or speculation, which is separate from rumor in my view. I also found some posts that seemed true to me, but that Rawson declared false, such as those where 9to5Mac added some incorrect speculation, or where the general thrust of the post was correct with one minor incorrect detail.

Out of the posts originally declared false, my findings turned up 52 false rumors, 31 unverifiable or opinion pieces and 8 true ones. That brings the total to 81 true and 52 false, for an accuracy rating of 61.4 percent. That’s still not much better than flipping a coin, and continues to prove in general that random Apple rumors should not be trusted. But in this case, it’s not the majority.

2013 Rumor Retrospective: ‘All the leaks were…’ [TUAW]