Apple to get into VR? Watch out for Fake News!

Well, it’s been a busy week and we’ve been beavering away on our CES report and we had hoped to get it finished by today, but it looks as though it won’t be done until early next week. Having said how busy it has been, news has been thin and this was one of those weeks when it might have been better not to have a Front Page!

We have several rumours about Apple this week. There is a complete industry dealing with Apple rumours because of the size of the company and its culture, which is very controlling of information and news. Over the years, the company has proved to be very effective at manipulating news media and the stories they run, so I would always caution a lot of care even when rumours look credible. Today, with the crowning of Trump, the topic of ‘fake news’ has been widely debated, but in my opinion, Apple has been a master of fake news for years! (I can’t think why I don’t get invitations to Apple press events any more…)

However, I did get a rumour recently from someone that I trust. It was linked with an article by Robert Scoble, a veteran technology journalist. The trusted source told me that they had heard from someone ‘that should know’ (which I took to be a partner of Apple) that Scoble might be onto something this time.

Scoble quotes a Zeiss employee as confirming that Apple and Carl Zeiss are working together on a design for light augmented/mixed reality glasses that may be announced this year. Scoble has previously reported that there are 600 engineers at PrimeSense in Israel working on 3D sensors (Apple bought PrimeSense in 2013).

Is Apple working on something like the Lenovo C200 shown at CES? Image:Meko

Apple needs something, and CEO Cook needs something to show that the innovation that has served Apple so well is a function of the company and not just on his predecessor, Steve Jobs, so the rumours fit the ‘credible’ test.

While thinking about these rumours, I got a call from someone who said he would like to show me something secret at ISE, under NDA. Now, I’ve been in the business a long time, and dealing with NDAs is part of the business. I like to say that there are three levels of knowledge that I often have on a topic. At the top level, there’s what we can print and publish. At the next level is information I may give subscribers if they call me or we meet, but which I couldn’t be sure enough about to print. Then there’s secret information, that I’m not going to reveal. Sometimes I have the information with a formal NDA, more often its based on informal relationships.

Sometimes, though it’s good not to have an NDA. One of the best technology journalists I have known, Mike Magee – a founder of the Register and the Inquirer – would never sign an NDA. He said to people that they should always assume that they were ‘on the record’. Of course, in late night sessions, they often forgot, but he didn’t!

To my contact I said that they could show me the secret with or without an NDA, but for news purposes it might be best if they didn’t tell me or show me. Then if (or, more likely, when) I found out, I could print it!


(Some 20 years ago, I had this conversation with Sony who wouldn’t confirm a rumour to me about a display technology change. I said, “tell me under NDA and I won’t print it, or don’t tell me and I’ll find out and print it!”. As it happens, I was at CeBIT, so it took me just 24 hours to have fleshed out the firm’s full road map and had even been taken into a back room by one of its customers to see a sample based on the technology! On days like that, journalism is fun!)