Don't Trade on Apple Tradeshow Rumors

Few events provoke such rank speculation from the business media as the Macworld conference. Take it with a large grain of salt.
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Want to know what The Business Press Maven knows for such absolute, sure-fire certain? At (AAPL) - Get Report's Macworld Expo, starting Jan. 5 in San Francisco, the company is either going to release a breakthrough device that creates a new product category or introduce modest tweaks to existing products or unveil nothing but a sad, little flop.

Of that, I am absolutely certain. How do I know? Well, I just read business media coverage. And there you have it.

In all seriousness, few events outside of mergers and acquisitions provoke such rank speculation from the business media as the Macworld conference, the staging ground of many

Apple product

introductions in the past.

Apple plays product introductions as close to the vest as any public company. And yet -- well, there the business media go again, predicting what's under the cloak.

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It's tempting. It's notoriously hard to find good sources at Apple willing to discuss new products, but journalists can ask analysts what they hear is coming and, uh, analysts can ask journalists, and ... Like I said: It's tempting to run with a prediction or two, however removed the sourcing.

First, you can't really be wrong, At least, until the conference comes, and by then everyone has forgotten what you said. Second, Apple often releases or redesigns several products, so somewhere in your excited prediction might lurk an accidental morsel of truth. Third, the holiday-time lead-up to the Macworld show occurs during the quietest period of the year. It's a low-volume, low-news jag, and so what else is there to report on but wild guesses? The alternative is to stay quiet or say "I don't know," and neither will do.

If there is a thread to the predictions this year, it's that nothing big and splashy will happen. That's probably due to the grim mood overall and the fact that Apple has announced that this is its last appearance at Macworld and that longtime keynote speaker Steve Jobs won't give a final address. Given the company's love of surprises and the defiance of expectations, I have a creeping, unfounded feeling that Apple might just unwrap something good, but I don't know.

Fortune

, though, apparently does:

"It now looks unlikely that Apple will launch a new product category at Macworld in early January, taking away a potential catalyst for the shares and causing Apple to try and generate demand in a tough environment without the benefit of a new offering."

As does RealMoney.com, which

predicts

Apple will roll out a game-changer in the second half of the year:

"Shares of Apple post a solid second-half rebound as the company introduces its next breakthrough device."

Meanwhile, a

video

from TheStreet.com gives voice to rumors about products introduced at Macworld, including an iPhone Nano.

Mercifully, because Apple has downplayed Macworld's importance this year, there's less wild guessing than usual. Speculative fervor is less in vogue this year, too. Still, you may read about what Apple might be unveiling at the conference. Read away, I suppose. Just don't make an investment decisions on a word of it.

At the time of publication, Fuchs had no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this column.

Marek Fuchs was a stockbroker for Shearson Lehman Brothers and a money manager before becoming a journalist who wrote The New York Times' "County Lines" column for six years. He also did back-up beat coverage of The New York Knicks for the paper's Sports section for two seasons and covered other professional and collegiate sports. He has contributed frequently to many of the Times' other sections, including National, Metro, Escapes, Style, Real Estate, Arts & Leisure, Travel, Money & Business, Circuits and the Op-Ed Page. For his "Business Press Maven? column on how business and finance are covered by the media, Fuchs was named best business journalist critic in the nation by the Talking Biz website at The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Fuchs is a frequent speaker on the business media, in venues ranging from National Public Radio to the annual conference of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. Fuchs appreciates your feedback;

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