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Faster Forward
Posted at 11:31 AM ET, 03/04/2011

Looking back at great tech rumors

In Rob’s column this week, he looks at the best ways to evaluate the many, many rumors that circulate about technology and gadgetry. Whether it’s the latest tidbit about a much-anticipated gadget or game, a whisper about a new release date or the whiff of a tech-related scandal, the tech-obsessed among us are frantic to get the latest snippet of “news.”

Sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re not, but they’re always great fun to talk about. In honor of Rob’s latest column, here are some of our favorite rumors from the recent past— please, tell us about yours in the comments:

1) Facebook is shutting down: This rumor spread like wildfire through forums and social networking sites after a report on the (ever-reliable) Weekly World News asserted that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was just not that into his monster social network anymore. The report from the unabashedly outrageous parody paper included a great quote from “Zuckerberg”: "Facebook has gotten out of control and the stress of managing this company has ruined my life. I need to put an end to all the madness." (By the way, have we ever mentioned this before? Post Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Donald E. Graham sits on Facebook's board of directors and the newspaper and many Post staffers use Facebook for marketing purposes.)

2) The iPhone Nano: It seemed like completely legitimate news. Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal both reported that Apple was mulling a smaller iPhone, one-third the size of the current model. But then the New York Times threw cold water on the rumor a few days later, saying their own anonymous sources said a smaller iPhone was a wholly impractical design and that the model number other reports had linked to the iPhone Nano were really for the Verizon iPhone. This one still hasn’t been quashed on the record, but the reasons against it seem pretty strong.

3) Microsoft will preview ... anything at CES: There were high hopes for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Rumors said he’d preview a new slate, Windows 8 or a set-top box to take on Google TV and Apple TV. But apart from confirming that the next version of Windows will be ARM-based to make the platform play nice with mobile, there was nothing new out of the keynote, which fizzled to a close. As Rob live-blogged from Vegas: “Is this really going to end without any major new product launch? It is. Ballmer thanks the audience for attending.”

4) Facebook is making a phone: This rumor first gained traction in September 2010, when TechCrunch reported that the social network was building software for its very own Facebook-brand phone. The social network denied the rumor until it was blue in the face, but rumors persisted. Then, at this year’s Mobile World Congress, HTC revealed two phones with deep Facebook integration and a one-touch button to share to Facebook. The Salsa and the Cha Cha (or Cha Cha Cha , in Spain) are not the Facebook phones we all imagined, but they are “Facebook phones.” Kind of.

5) The Apple iPad 2 will come in white: Many (including those of us at Faster Forward) were more than a little skeptical when 9 to 5 Mac put up a photo of what appeared to be a white iPad exterior. Surely, we thought, after all of Apple’s false starts with the white iPhone, a snowy white tablet — particularly at launch — was not likely at all. It was almost too far-fetched to spread, but then again ....

And that, ladies and gentleman, is why we still pay attention to rumors.

What are your all-time favorite tech rumors and why? Let us know in the comments.

Related stories:

Grading my Verizon iPhone predictions

Apple's iPad 2: the final rumor roundup

iPhone 5: Top 5 rumors roundup

By  |  11:31 AM ET, 03/04/2011

 
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