Tech Industry

The Apple guessing game

Apple creates intrigue about its products by not disclosing anything about them before launch, resulting in an extraordinary amount of speculation and hype.

Will iPhones and iPads become available in more shapes and sizes. Of course, but Apple won't tell.

Apple likes to keep you guessing. When will the new iPhone come out? Will it have a larger screen? Is there a Retina iPad Mini or iWatch in the works for this year? Will Apple bring out a lower-cost iPhone for the masses? What about Apple Glass? The company has some patents for head-mounted displays?

The mostly unanswered questions and constant swirl of rumors help burnish the Apple mystique and fuel the fan base, who bask in the endless speculation and hype. It also keeps the press working overtime to sort out the various reports about what the company may or may not introduce in the near or distant future. The readers of CNET and other publications covering the tech world certainly cannot get enough of Apple.

The extraordinary amount of attention lavished on Apple comes in part from the company's impenetrability. Apple keeps its cards very close to the vest. The code of silence established by Steve Jobs -- you are banished from the Apple empire or even worse if you violate the code -- has been remarkably effective. Not even the NSA knows the screen size and resolution of the next generation of iPhones.

"We release products when they are ready, and we believe in the element of surprise. I have no plan on changing that," Apple CEO Tim Cook says.

Apple wants to create intrigue and excitement about its products by not talking about them before launch. Bloomberg/Getty Images

The source of most Apple leaks is its Asian supply chain. Some of the images and specs leaked turn out to be accurate, especially those surfacing closer to the time when new Apple products are in manufacturing. However, much of what is written about Apple's product plans is raw speculation from shadowy sources accompanied by the persistent no comment or silence from Cupertino.

On the cusp of Apple supposedly introducing an update to the iPhone 5 in September or October, the speculation has long been that it will be called the 5S, have the same screen size as its predecessor and be available in the fall. The Taiwanese publication Commercial Times reported last week that Apple delayed the iPhone 5S launch to the end of the year in order to switch from 4-inch to 4.3-inch screen. Based on Apple's past cadence of introductions, and the lack of a new iPhone in a year in the face of increased competition, a delay until the end the year is unlikely. Of course, that's just speculation.

HTC's One, left, alongside the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5.
Will Apple deliver a bigger screeen? HTC's One, left, alongside the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5. Josh Miller/CNET

Yesterday, the reputable Wall Street Journal offered the revelation that Apple is considering larger screens for its mobile devices.

In recent months, Apple has asked for prototype smartphone screens larger than 4 inches and has also asked for screen designs for a new tablet device measuring slightly less than 13 inches diagonally, they said. The current iPhone 5 has a four-inch screen, while the iPad has a 9.7-inch screen. The iPad Mini, a stripped-down version of its tablet computer, has a 7.9-inch screen. Whether the designs will make their way to market is unclear. The Cupertino, Calif., company routinely tests different designs for its products as it refines them during development.

The Journal report about the larger screens, based on information from unnamed (fearing for their jobs) officials at Apple suppliers, which may "make their way to market" was dutifully picked up by CNET and many other publications. Forget that Apple regularly prototypes all kinds of screen sizes and materials, or that many of the Apple faithful are clamoring for larger screens. It's another tiny morsel to feed the millions starving for something more from Apple.