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Welcome to 'contrarian Monday,' Apple fans

The Apple rumor mill gets gobsmacked (and we are grateful), while a noted analyst pours cold water on the inevitability of "iTV."

Apple's Cupertino headquarters, where tomorrow's event is happening.
Apple's Cupertino headquarters James Martin/CNET

Philip Elmer-DeWitt and Harry McCracken authored a couple of great posts chronicling the bizarre way in which Apple rumors routinely get transmogrified into "OH MY STARS, DID YOU SEE THIS?" headlines. My only beef is that they got down to writing this before I did.

From the McCracken post:

For years, Digitimes has been a high-profile rumormonger when it comes to upcoming Apple products, usually crediting its gossip to the Asian component makers who supply Apple with bits and pieces of technology. (The publication says, for instance, that "sources from the upstream supply chain" told it about the $799 Air.) Its stories get covered widely -- sometimes by writers who pause to express a certain degree of doubt, and sometimes by ones who don't.

But the thing is, Digitimes isn't just wrong some of the time. When it comes to the big Apple stories, it's wrong most of the time. Sometimes wildly so. It's reported that its sources had said that Apple was going to release MacBooks with AMD processors, iMacs with touch screens, iPhones with built-in projectors and iPads with OLED displays. Those products, and others mentioned in Digitimes articles, never showed up.

For his part, Elmer-Dewitt shined a welcome light on how comments attributed to Hon Hai chairman Terry Gou took on a life of their own. Gou supposedly announced at a press conference in Shanghai last week that the company's Foxconn subsidiary was "making preparations for iTV." The source for the report was China Daily.

If Gou really said this, it would be -- for all the reasons stated above -- very big news. So how is it that none of the other reporters covering the event heard it? Not Reuters' John Ruwitch. Not Bloomberg's Tim Culpin. Not the AP's Elaine Kurtenbach. It is possible that the China Daily reporter misheard or misunderstood Gou's remarks? Or that his report was mistranslated? Or that a desk editor or rewrite person mangled it?

And then comes this morsel with Foxconn denying the comments attributed to him by China Daily. According to the company, Gou issued the usual boilerplate response where he said that Foxconn was "always prepared to meet the manufacturing needs of customers should they determine that they wish to work with Foxconn in the production of any of their products."

But we're not done yet. Pacific Crest's Andy Hargreaves, a Wall Streeter who follows Apple, issued a note to clients today expressing welcome skepticism about the supposed inevitability of an Apple-branded TV set (h/t to Fortune.)

  • Investment in Apple television makes little sense without a unique TV content offering. An Apple television could drive substantial profitability if it helped Apple capture service provider profits. However, we do not expect U.S. broadcast or cable networks to provide Apple content if it risks cannibalizing existing revenue, which makes a unique Apple service and an Apple television unlikely.
  • An Apple television would be a terrible use of retail space relative to iPhone, iPad or the Apple TV set-top box. A 46" Apple television would likely generate less than 1/200th the gross profit per cubic foot as an iPhone at retail, and less than 1/50th the gross profit per cubic foot of an iPad. We believe this is critical given the limited inventory space at many Apple and partner stores.

Welcome to "Contrarian Monday."