When it comes to Apple, rumours are an almost essential part of the mythos. Entire websites are dedicated to publishing rumours about supposed new products, software updates, “leaked” images, and even the personal lives of its executives. These rumours are almost exclusively benign, and allow us to have silly debates nobody cares about. However, for some companies, rumours turn nasty – very nasty. Palm just went through two of these.
Yesterday, we already pondered Palm’s current position and the company’s future, and while you can argue about whether or not it will survive, we can all agree on the fact that a rough spot has been hit. The last thing a company in this situation needs is crazy rumours that find their way all over the media.
The first destructive rumour came yesterday when some stock research firm claimed that Palm had halted production of the Pixi and Pre. Engadget and PreCentral did something revolutionary and, you know, contacted Palm and just… Asked. It turned out to be nothing. Palm’s statement was concise.
“Palm regularly adjusts its product manufacturing levels to manage inventory,” the company stated, “In anticipation of the Verizon Wireless launch and Chinese New Year, we increased production levels prior to February, and anticipate ramping production back up after the Chinese New Year ends.”
Of course, the media were already all over it by then. If that wasn’t enough, another crazy rumour made its way into the media – and this one was clearly concocted to be destructive. A lot of major tech news outlets (alas, we aren’t big enough) received an email in which it was said that a leaked internal memo from Jon Rubinstein announced that Palm would switch to Android.
“While Palm is incredibly proud of our engineers who spent timeless work and effort to bring us this advanced operating system, consumers simply have not caught on,” Rubinstein supposedly said in the supposed memo, “To provide a better future for ourselves and our customers, the only logical choice is to transition our hardware and software to the Android platform.”
The email further stated that Palm would create a Sense UI-like thing on top of Android. It was said that the full memo would be published on Wikileaks by midnight last night. The memo never appeared, so the story was clearly a fiction. Engadget contacted Palm, and they basically laughed at the whole thing, and clearly denied everything.
While the first rumour is clearly just a misunderstanding, the second one was actually deliberately thought up, and effort was put into it. It makes me rather sad that things like this happen – it’s one thing to come up with benign rumours (the Apple way), but these destructive ones are just appalling.
Some of you may wonder – why do I call the second rumour destructive? Well, you have to understand that Palm’s value proposition is webOS. Switching to Android, as the rumour suggested, would basically take away everything that sets Palm apart from HTC and other Android phone makers.