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The Apple community are people who are interested in Apple Inc. and its products and share information in various media. Generally this has evolved into a proliferation of websites, all involved in online stories and discussions about Apple's products and how to use them, with some specifically speculating on rumors about future product releases. Such stories and discussions may include topics related to physical products like the Macintosh and iOS devices (e.g. the iPhone, iPod, and iPad); software and operating systems, like iOS, OS X, and Final Cut Pro; or even services Apple offers like MobileMe or iCloud. In recent years, a more specific subculture within the Apple community has developed, where some websites will focus almost exclusively on rumors about new Apple products and services. Apple enjoys a cult-like following for its platforms, especially following the massive increase in popularity for the brand brought about by the huge increase in sales for all its products that started around the time the company introduced the original iPod in late 2001. The mass usage of computing devices in everyday life, mixed with Apple's vertical integration of its products, has helped to bring about this increase in popularity, and combined with a tight-lipped corporate policy about future products, helped foster an interest in the company's activities.
The culture of mass discussion about Apple products goes back to when the company started to sell significant numbers of their original computers in the early 1980s. Latterly, the industry of Macintosh rumor speculation, began with a regular column in the now defunct MacWEEK magazine called "Mac the Knife" and written under a pseudonym. This column would often cover topics such as upcoming hardware releases from Apple, as well as new software products and incremental updates with new features. It was written by the MacWEEK staff and was sometimes used by companies as an early form of viral marketing to generate buzz around products before they were ready for release. For instance, Macromedia would tout new features in the upgrade to its drawing program when buzz was building for an imminent release of Adobe Illustrator.
Sites and publishers
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The Apple community is made up of several websites which exclusively, or almost exclusively, specialize in Apple products. Some have ceased operation, but a great many continue to run successfully.
In addition to these purely Apple info sites, most other mainstream technology journalism sites, including Ars Technica, Engadget, Gizmodo, CNET, Slashdot, and GigaOM, include Apple sections, and many prominent bloggers also talk extensively about Apple products.
Launched in 1998 as a news and rumor website for Apple products and services, appleinsider.com includes a forum for discussion of news stories and other community news.
In the late 1990s Apple successfully sued a John Doe from AppleInsider's boards with the username "Worker Bee" for revealing information on what would eventually become the Apple Pro Mouse. It was a rare case of Apple following through on threats of a suit. The case was settled out of court.
MacOS Rumors was founded by Ethan C. Allen in 1995. It was obtained by Ryan Meader after a domain expiration within two years of its creation. Originally with Ethan, the site posted most of its rumors based on screenshots and info sent via email from followers. With Ryan at the helm, MacOS Rumors collected content from message boards and usenet posts but later claimed (unsubstantiated) to have developed contacts inside Apple. In the past few years MacOS Rumors has gained a reputation for being inaccurate. Meader had allowed the MacOS Rumors domain name to expire around July 16, 2007, but then renewed the domain for another nine years and announced the addition of a new staff writer.
Initiated in May 2002 as MacOSXRumors, MacScoop initially focused on Mac OS X but eventually became an outlet for general Apple news and rumors. The site was renamed MacScoop in September 2006, with MacOSXRumors.com remaining focused on Mac OS X. The site's owner is among those who were contacted by Apple lawyers in 2004 after publishing a Mac OS X Tiger related article.
Think Secret appeared in 1999. Apple filed a lawsuit against the company alleging it printed stories containing Apple trade secrets. In December 2007 the lawsuit was settled with no sources being disclosed; however, the site was shut down, finally closing on February 14, 2008.
In the year leading up to the closing of the site, ThinkSecret correctly predicted an aluminum shell iMac, development of a touchscreen based iPod starting in 2006, and the relative BlackBerry-esque form factor of the new iPod Nano. However, there were still some reports that turned out to be false, such as its prediction of the demise of the Mac Mini, when it received an upgrade in mid-2007, albeit with no fanfare.
Macintosh User Groups
Macintosh User Groups (MUGs) are a group of people who use Macintosh computers made by Apple Inc. or other manufacturers and who use the Apple Macintosh operating system (OS). These groups are primarily locally situated and meet regularly to discuss Macintosh computers, the Mac OS, software and peripherals that work with these computers. Some groups focus on the older versions of Mac OS, up to Mac OS 9, but the majority now focus on the current version of Mac OS, Mac OS X. This user group began with the formation of the Apple User Group Connection.
Apple's official stance on speculation around any future product releases, is that they do not directly comment on such speculation, nor discuss any products, until they are finally released. Historically, Apple has often used legal means, such as cease and desist orders, in order to retain trade secrets, intellectual property, or confidential corporate information. Typically, however, Apple has primarily pursued the leakers of information themselves, rather than any sites containing rumors on their products. Apple's suit against Think Secret in 2005, however, is targeting whether these sites have the right to knowingly publish this protected information. Staff are also required to sign non-disclosure clauses within the company.
During his January 10, 2006 keynote address to the Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, Apple's then CEO Steve Jobs poked fun at the rumors community by pretending to create a "Super Secret Apple Rumors" podcast during his demonstration of new features in GarageBand.
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