Engadget Explains iPhone Gaffe
Engadget editor Ryan Block followed up on Wednesday’s iPhone mix up with a long apology and explanation of how the popular tech blog received bogus information and why it was posted.
Block’s words should ring true for anyone in the news reporting industry: if you have a hot tip that seems rock-solid, you roll with it before anybody else can.
It’s quite believable that Engadget couldn’t have known in the time allotted that their reporting would send investors, to quote Charlie Daniels, "steppin’ and fetchin’ like their heads was on fire and their asses was catchin’."
Block posts that the tip came from an internal source at Apple, pulling from an internal memo that circulated among several Apple employees – a memo so correct in form that it fooled even them. The memo stated the hotly anticipated iPhone would be delayed until 2008.
"For a reporter, this kind of thing — an internal memo to a company’s employees — is solid gold," Block said.
Unfortunately for everybody, the false information sent Apple stocks plummeting in late morning trading, knocking $4 billion of the company’s market capitalization. Shares recovered upon news that the memo was bogus.
Block notes that Engadget wasn’t the only publication reporting the news, though they may have been the first.
"Given the nature of that news," he writes, "we felt we had an obligation to inform people that Apple had sent out an internal memo in preparation of a delay in the iPhone and Leopard. And so I ran the story; I believe most people in my place would have done the same."
Yes. Yes, we would have.
It’s still unclear as to whether Apple will face an investigation from the Security and Exchange Commission for apparent stock manipulation, whether somebody’s head will roll down Apple HQ hallways, or whether the memo was just an exquisitely executed prank.