While I regularly moan about how little our and others' so-called 'expert opinions' have on real world decision making (Why are you all going to see Spiderman 3?!), sometimes one small thing can have enormous ramifications...
That was the case latterly this week when respected tech blog site (and regular linker to TR) Engadget wrote a story saying both Apple's iPhone and Leopard OS were going to be severely delayed. Their info came from what appeared to be a perfectly legitimate email circulated around Apple's internal mail server (you can see its content reprinted below this article).
Unfortunately for Engadget the email was fraudulent, though its circulation path was not: a highly unusual state of affairs.
The result of the story was catastrophic. $4bn was knocked off Apple's share value inside half an hour. Apple was forced to issue an official denial and the stock quickly recovered, but undoubtedly some made fortunes and others lost them.
In its defence Engadget was swift to correct its story and it has since written a detailed piece about the order of events which led to its ill-fated creation. From a journalist's perspective there was little Engadget could have done differently to avoid this initial error – we all make them, even me – other than hold back on publishing and let me tell you NO TITLE would risk missing out on such a potentially huge exclusive when it believed it source material to be authentic...
That is just one side of the story though, the other is the impact such a story (on a blog, no less) can carry on today's technological and financial landscape. Despite the quips, sarcasm and (at least attempts at) humour that cover the TrustedReviews pages there is serious work in the background to try and bring factually correct, independent information to your screens.
Such incidents remind us that journalists do actually have impact on the real world (even if most days it doesn't feel like it) and as such it is a position that comes with great responsibility. We can't promise to be perfect, I can't promise to be perfect but – like Engadget - we'll be quick to admit any mistakes and hope in the meantime $4bn doesn't get knocked off anyone's share price!
Now, let's get to work on those Apple conspiracy theories: who wrote the letter and why? Personally, I blame Bin Laden... and Spiderman ;)
From: Bullet News
Date: May 16, 2007 9:09 AM CDT
Subject: Mac OS X Leopard and iPhone Delayed
Mac OS X Leopard Delayed Until January
iPhone Delayed Until October
REGIONS: Asia-Pacific, Canada, Europe, Japan, Latin America, United States
GROUPS: AppleCare, Retail
Apple issued a press release today announcing that iPhone which was scheduled to ship in June, has been moved to October and the release date for Mac OS X Leopard has been moved to January next year. A beta version of Mac OS X Leopard will be given to developers at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).