This wasn’t quite what people were expecting and a very slick move on Linksys’ part. One of the people who were really caught by this was Brian Lam of Gizmodo who was cited by many as the source for the news about the Apple iPhone launch. Since the news about the Linksys announcement hit the blogosphere, Brian has come under quite a bit of criticism for apparently misleading the blogosphere about the announcement. One of his critics was Om Malik who took a brief look at the Linksys announcement here.
Brian posted an explanation to the Gizmodo blog the other day explaining what he did and why he did it. Basically, he got caught out just like the rest of us … sort of:
My name is Brian Lam, and I’m an iPhone sensationalist.
You know me from awesome takedown sites like this one, this one, and this one. And my favorite of all, an entire blog dedicated to why I suck, and the conspiracy theories around the Gizmodo iPhoneyGate incident. Most people saw iPhoneyGate for what it was: a dramatic shift in a big story.
Truth is, I fell for the iPhone hype just as hard as everyone else (that’s my job, after all). And in many ways I’m just as disappointed about how the whole thing unfolded. It all started with a coded email…
The email came in from Linksys, and it alluded to some unreleased product news, with this tantalizing line tacked to the end:
iPhone am not sure if I can tell you yet what it is quite yet.
My mind raced. I read it again. Did this mean Linksys was working with Apple? The iPhone would be a VOIP service, perhaps, and Apple would open it up to outside handset providers? Without hesitation, I agreed to the embargo and hit send. The reply came back in a minute, and included the information on the Linksys iPhone, and the revelation that Linksys owned the trademark on that high-profile name that everyone assumed was the property of Apple.
I was deflated.
I should have known better than to get my hopes up. Gizmodo has been handed some great leaks in the pastbut something of this magnitude? The only way the iPhone is going to be announced is when Steve Jobs does it, probably on a Tuesday, at a Mac event.
And then I saw the bigger picture: Apple didn’t have the iPhone name that had already accrued so much value. And if a Linksys was announcing this product, it meant that Apple would not be able to buy it. I don’t know whether negotiations broke down, or whether there were negotiations to begin with. But Steve Jobs probably isn’t too happy about the outcome.
News like this is hard to keep a lid on. And I knew that we weren’t the only blog that was going to be tipped off about this news. So I got to work on crafting a carefully worded blind item. I entered the phrases, shuffled the words around.
Should I put rumor in the title? No, because I knew it was coming out.
Should I take iPhone out of the title? No, because it is an iPhone.
Should I say it’s not by Apple? Nah, because that would blow the lid on Monday’s real news.
I knew that no matter what I did, even if the post was 100% correct, and even had a disclaimer, I would be crucified by the fanboys unless I actually delivered an Apple iPhone. I might as well have promised the second coming. But I wasn’t going to drop a lead like thisa scoop on the false Jesus phone.
The iPhone came out when I said it would. And the big picture story I wrote on Sunday night, was legitimized on Monday morning. And, Just as I’d expected, the lashings were merciless. Funny, I always thought my path to infamy would involve motorcycles and bar scuffles.
But the best of the roastings didn’t come from Apple sites. Most of the Apple hardcore recognized the bigger picture story and ran with it. That fact that Gizmodo was having a bit of a laugh didn’t much matter.
The scorned fanboys didn’t take the news nearly as well. The best outrage came from this dude: PLZ READ his Boycott Gizmodo blog. It’s an awesome conspiracy theory that is 100 times more sensational than the Gizmodo’s iPhoneyGate could ever hope to be. He got everything wrong, except the fact that I did initially add the Apple tag to our post, only to take it off a day later. I’ve returned it, now, since it means so much to Mr. Boycott. It was there in the first place because the big story the blind item referred to is Apple related. I quickly took it off because it really was the most misleading section of the post. In retrospect, I should never have removed it, or at least mentioned the update as an additional clue in the item.
I guess what this means is that Apple won’t be releasing an iPhone. We will have to wait and see what it does call the phone everyone expects it will release some day (hopefully) soon. It will have to be quite an impressive device to persuade me to go for it. I have my eyes on the new Nokia N95 which ought to be a pretty awesome device when it comes out.
Oh well, back to the rumour mill …