There have sure been a lot of rumors about a bigger iPhone screen lately, huh? It sure is easy to get overloaded on tech rumors when we're in the middle of a cycle.
You know about the "cycle", right? It goes something like this.
Apple has an impending release of a product planned. It is certain that they do. It is obvious that they do.
The debates first start by addressing "release dates". The release will be announced at WWDC. No, it will be released in the Fall. No, it will be released next Spring when many cellular contracts get renewed, etc. All scenarios will be discussed ad nauseum.
Despite the fact that the release of said product is (possibly) months away, the manufacturer "facts" start leaking out because, hey, if the manufacturers don't know what's going on, who does, right?
Each new "fact" revealed is debated endlessly in what I refer to as the technology echosphere, bouncing back and forth between twitter, blog posts and sites looking for pageviews.
There's usually a lot of math involved in these facts. Some are debunked, some are found to support products that will never see the light of day. Some are put forth as the first signs of Apple faltering in the market and clear ways for competitors to gain a foothold in the marketplace. Many of these facts are ridiculous linkbait and are obviously wrong.
The curmudgeonly twitterers, like Merlin Mann (who I love dearly), poke fun at the round robin of idiots and geniuses alike, and their predictions. I can't say I blame him. There is no way to know anything about what Apple might be thinking really. Not concretely, anyway.
Of course, some writers are better at spotting trends than others and some are great at cutting through the bullshit and coming up with what makes sense. The fact that they are right more often than not is what keeps people reading. The feeling of being right is great, especially in the face of so many others being wrong.
So what makes these tech rumors such heady stuff for writers and twitter folks? Like Merlin, you can say it really doesn't matter because Apple will do what Apple does. These predictions seem to revolve around people positioning themselves to be right more than anything.
I can't necessarily disagree, but I follow this stuff, like a lot of other developers (or in my case, head of a technology group), because my livelihood depends on it. Knowing a few weeks or months ahead of a release is key for us planning our next move. It is also key to mitigating risk for current or upcoming projects. For some of us, missing a prediction (whether it is posted on the internet or written on a whiteboard in a meeting room) can mean the difference between weeks or months of development time.
So, while I agree to some extent with the curmudgeons about the tech rumor merry-go-round, there are some really good reasons it exists. I love following it because (a) I like being right and (b) it's fun to read and (c) I like making fun of people who are so impossibly and completely wrong.