The Dumbest Apple Rumor of the Year

There are all kinds of Apple rumors out there; big ones, small ones, smart ones, dumb ones. God knows we run enough of them ourselves. But there's a genus of the species that we never post, ever, because it's so obviously and insidiously dumb and wrong and bad. And here is, without exaggeration, the very absolute worst example of it I've ever seen.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet your worst Apple rumor of the year, and maybe of all time.

You may have seen the headlines already, here and here and probably most other tech sites you follow. The basic gist:

APPLE'S HDTV TO HAVE 3D TECH THAT WILL CHANGE TELEVISION FOREVER

There is, as you might have noticed the last time you attained even the vaguest state of consciousness, no such thing as an Apple HDTV. There never has been. That headline is like saying Charles Barkley might put up a triple double in the Space Jam rematch. So how did a product that doesn't—and may well never—exist suddenly get features that, if it's even possible, exist even less?

Because this morning, the two worst rumor sources in tech found each other. Analysts met patents, and created a perfect storm of bullshit.

This morning, before the market opened, two Morgan Stanley analysts released a report about "iTV," Apple's bold foray into our living rooms. The mythical television set would be worth $13 billion to Apple in the US alone, $39 billion globally, and 68,000 gumdrops in Candyland. That's harmless enough; market projections are at least based on how many TVs people buy currently, and a reasonable guess at how many of those people might buy the Apple version. Sure, why not? But then the trouble starts.

It turns out that not only do Morgan Stanley's analysts have a pretty good idea of how many non-existent iTVs Apple will sell, they're also privy to a swath of non-existent features that'll come with it. Including, as StreetInsider happily passes along, a 3D remote control, a "groundbreaking 3D imaging and display system" that knows where you are and what you're doing and, presumably, shows Duck Dynasty from the appropriate angle, and the ability to display an athlete's blood pressure during football games because why not, might as well, it's all just make-believe anyway. Tickle Honey Boo Boo from your couch while you're at it.

It's tempting to think that these analysts know something you don't. That they have covert sources slipping juicy leaks into their Honeybaked Ham deliveries. But you know what? They don't. They're guessing, same as anyone else. We don't cover analyst rumors, ever, because analysts don't know anything. To put it another way: if they did, Apple's HDTV would be here already. Years ago.

But what makes this particular rumor so galling is that it's not just the normal analyst projections and assumptions and bloviation. It's not even that it's yet another rumor—after nearly THREE YEARS of unfulfilled rumormongering—about a product that is Not Even a Thing. It's that all of these features that the Morgan Stanley braintrust cites come from patents. Come on, guys. You know better than this.

The Dumbest Apple Rumor of the Year

The problem with taking patents at face value is that patents aren't products and, more importantly, are often never even intended to be. Companies file patents defensively, stockpiling them like warheads for the never-ending infringement wars. They are, in their own way, every bit as Not Even a Thing as iTV itself. That's what every single one of these "features" is based on.

It gets worse, it gets worse! These aren't even new patents Morgan Stanley dug up from some Cupertino patent bunker. The most recent one was filed in 2008, and most were granted months or years ago. Or not at all, which, even better. Will Apple act on them someday? Maybe. Right after they get to that wearable display, and finish building all those iTunes kiosks.

Look, it's just a harmless rumor, sure. But it's also a lazy rumor, one that every single person involved knows has zero percent chance of becoming true in any reasonable amount of time. Could Apple announce an iTV tomorrow? Sure. Could it somehow put Duck Dynasty on your couch? Of course. But it won't. And no one knows that better than the people telling you it might.