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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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Several publishers of magazines and websites cater to Apple fans.
MacWorld was started in 1984 as a site dedicated to products and software from Apple, Inc, and was re-branded to "MacWorld" in 1997.
9to5Mac was founded in 2007 by Seth Weintraub as an Apple news website originally focused on Macs in the enterprise. Since then, the website has expanded to covering all things Apple. 9to5Mac is known as the leading website within the Apple News Community in terms of breaking impactful news. The site gained fame in its earlier years for publishing the first photos of the third-generation iPod nano, the original iPod touch, early photos of the first iPhone, and details about Apple's still-in-use aluminum manufacturing process for laptops. In recent years, 9to5Mac published the first accurate details about the iPhone 4S, Siri, Apple's move from Google Maps to Apple Maps, new health and fitness applications, OS X updates, and the Apple Watch. The site also published the first photos of the white iPad 2, iPhone 5, and the iPad Air. The creation of 9to5Mac as well as its top authors were profiled in 2014 by Business Insider.
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 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.
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.
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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