Everyone loves a good rumour, and the tech industry is no exception. A fresh Apple rumour is catnip to the geeky masses, no matter how insignificant (a new iPhone colour!), while rumblings of trouble at a major company can light up Twitter in an instant.
So it should come as no surprise that 2013 was full of juicy tech gossip. Some reports were true, like a new iPhone dubbed the 5C, though that "C" stood for colour rather than cheap. We also saw that Microsoft organisational shakeup as well as a curved smartphone from LG.
But a number of stories have yet to become a reality – from old favourites that just don't want to die to new ideas that could be quite interesting if the people involved can make a deal.
Where do these rumours originate? Ideally, they come from journalists with well-placed sources, but many a tech tidbit has been revealed by a blogger combing through code. Then there are the overseas suppliers, who might get a bit too chatty about this great new product they saw on the production line, pictures of which just happen to show up on a Chinese web forum. And let's not forget the Wall Street analysts, who usually have a spotty track record but plenty of headlines.
So for your delectation, here are five of the bigger tech rumours of 2013. Feel free to brace yourself for what's in store for 2014.
Rumours about an Apple smartwatch, which was quickly dubbed the iWatch, started making the rounds last year. And even as high-tech watches from rivals like Sony and Samsung started rolling off production lines in 2013, all eyes were still on Apple. But while Apple's Tim Cook said at May's D11 conference that the wearable market was "interesting" – and Cupertino snapped up at least two Nike execs this year – Apple stuck with what it knows when it came to big announcements in 2013.
Apple has long championed its design choices, eschewing the phablet phenomenon, sticking with a 4in iPhone, and vowing never to release a 7in tablet because a 7.9in iPad mini is just right. And yet, rumours about huge versions of Apple's product line-up – from iPhone to iPad – won't go away. Just last month, an unnamed official at a Korean Apple supplier told the Korea Times that Apple would release a 12.9in iPad early next year. Given that Apple just updated its iPads, that seems unlikely. As my colleague Sascha Segan has pointed out numerous times, Apple is almost certainly experimenting with different sizes and form factors, but testing does not mean they're about to release these pieces of hardware.
Rumblings of an Intel-run TV service began in March 2012, when the Wall Street Journal first noted that the service would bundle US TV channels, much like cable and satellite TV providers already do, to deliver them over the Internet through a set-top box. Things perked up again in February when a company executive confirmed the project. However, funding has reportedly been a problem, and the latest reports tip some assistance from Verizon. Stay tuned.
In 2013, we got Facebook Home instead of a Facebook phone, but Amazon has thus far kept mum on its plans for a smartphone. In April, tongues were wagging when former Windows Phone executive Charlie Kindel was hired by Amazon to work on "something secret" in a "totally new area for Amazon." Naturally, that translated into AMAZON PHONE for much of the tech press, but so far, there's been no phone. By September, amidst reports that Amazon would not charge for its (still non-existent) phone, the company said that it had "no plans to offer a phone this year, and if we were to launch a phone in the future, it would not be free."
7in Microsoft Surface
In March, Microsoft lowered the minimum resolution for Windows 8 devices, suggesting that 7in tablets based on Redmond's latest operating system might be around the corner. The following month, the Wall Street Journal said that Microsoft was working on a new line-up of Surface tablets, including a 7in model. But when the second-gen Surface tablets were revealed, there was no smaller model. Part of the problem is that Microsoft's Windows platform works better on larger screens, but Redmond also had difficulty moving Surface tablets this year, particularly the RT version.
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