The thing about all these Apple and Amazon 'leaks'

Holy moly -- didja hear? Apple's about to release a magical, revolutionary, mind-groping new iPad Mini. It's definitely way better than anything you've ever seen and is totally gonna kill every other device in existence (despite the fact that it doesn't actually exist yet and no one's seen it -- a magical feat, indeed).

Apple's new iPhone 5 is on the way, too, of course, and it's bound to make Google's Android 4.1 Jelly Bean devices look like yesterday's dessert.

Oh yeah, and Amazon's got some killer stuff in the works as well -- something like 7 gazillion new tablet models, if I remember correctly, all of which are going to be A-W-E-S-O-M-E.

Hang on, though: Before you bust your britches with excitement, there's something you should realize.

Apple, Amazon Leaks

In all likelihood, the accidental "leaks" revealing all these details aren't accidental at all; rather, they're carefully constructed seeds of information planted by interested parties -- investors, dependent companies, maybe even the manufacturers themselves -- and their timing is no small coincidence.

Think about it: These past few weeks, tech news has been dominated by headlines gushing about Google's Nexus 7 tablet and new Android 4.1 platform. The stories revolving around Google's I/O convention quickly turned into reviews and comparisons, then buzz about how the Nexus 7 is starting to make a dent in both Apple's tablet stronghold and Amazon's Kindle Fire appeal.

Then, of course, came the stories about the Nexus 7's early sales success. Retailers around the world are reportedly selling out of the tablets; even Google itself has become backordered on the 16GB models due to what's described as "unexpected demand."

The coverage goes on, but you get the point: For a while now, it's seemed like all the tech world can talk about is Google's fancy new stuff and how much it's disrupting the rest of the market.

Apple Rumors

Pure coincidence, then, that the mysterious Apple rumor genies appear with baskets full of fresh, juicy info. And pure coincidence that some guy from Staples "lets it slip" that Amazon has a bunch of exciting new tablets on the way, too.

Or not. Suddenly, tech news aggregators are filled with positive, enthusiasm-building stories about Apple and Amazon instead of stories about how dull they're looking in contrast to the latest shiny object. Suddenly, people are expressing hesitation to run out and get the hot gadget du jour; hey, maybe it's worth waiting for the next big thing from [insert company name here] instead.

Look, tech rumors are a dime a dozen. Some of 'em may very well be true; others, particularly in the case of Apple, are just as likely to be wrong. But they all serve a distinct purpose: getting people to talk excitedly about the companies in question and getting positive news stories back on the (virtual) front page.

Android Power Twitter

Before you get caught up in the viral-spreading hype, take a second to think about the timing, the source, and the likely motivation of any "rumor," "leak," or "slipped" bit of information. Technology is a business -- and, to a large degree, a marketing game. It's amazing how skilled the players have become at manipulating the board to get what they want.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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