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Did Anyone Else Notice that Apple Lost $4 Billion in Value Yesterday?

It's stories like this that make bloggers cringe. Yesterday, tech blog Engadget received supposed insider information about a delay of the iPhone until October, and another delay for Leopard, pushing the new OS to January of 2008. Duty bound to report to its readers,
It's stories like this that make bloggers cringe. Yesterday, tech blog Engadget received supposed insider information about a delay of the iPhone until October, and another delay for Leopard, pushing the new OS to January of 2008. Duty bound to report to its readers, it filed a post. Within minutes, some people who read the post were selling their Apple stock, which dipped 3% in mid-day trading yesterday. The origin of the information was an internal Apple memo...which turned out to be fake. Fake or not, Apple's market capitalization sunk by $4 billion once the memo became public.Some are crying for an SEC investigation. According to a Business 2.0 blog, one shareholder sold 5 million shares within 10 to 15 minutes of seeing the post. The post was based on this language seen in the fake memo:


Apple issued a press release today announcing that iPhone which was scheduled to ship in June, has been moved to October and the release date for Mac OS X Leopard has been moved to January next year.

Apparently the email came from what Engadget calls a "trusted source" and was delivered from within Apple's internal email system, giving it the air of authenticity. Apple discovered the fake email quickly and 90 minutes later sent out a real email explaining that the first one was a fake:


"This communication is fake and did not come from Apple. Apple is on track to ship iPhone in late June and Mac OS X Leopard in October," said Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris.

Too late. The damage had already been done. Luckily, the turmoil was brief. The stock recovered most of its value by the end of the day (it closed down 0.17%). There are still a lot of questions that remain unanswered. Who really sent the memo? How did they do it from within the Apple system? Did they hack in? We can only assume that Apple is hunting down the responsible party and will take appropriate action once that person is found.

As a blogger, it's often hard to separate the wheat from the chaff in the online world, especially when "scooping" the competition is top of mind. From Engadget's point of view, I can understand why they would put up their original post based on the supposed good quality source material. What are bloggers to do, however, when fed erroneous information that looks real? Their gut instinct is to post first, question later. Lessons learned in Journalism 101, however, would have prevented the debacle. It never hurts to pick up the phone and call a company rep to confirm the validity of the information. Will this delay the story? Sure. But in the end, accuracy is more important than being the first to report a story.

Editor's Choice
Mary E. Shacklett, President of Transworld Data
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer