The flow of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) chatter never seems to run dry. There always seems to be a fresh Apple rumor, as unnamed sources -- typically said to be from the tech giant's supply chain -- begin divulging details on innovative gadgetry that we never end up seeing. This week was just the latest example, kicking off with talk that next year's iPhone model will come with a curved screen, followed by analyst debates about whether 2014 will be the year Apple finally delivers a smart television.
But it's not just Apple that gets run through the rumor mill. Let's go over a few of the tech giants for which the rumors didn't line up with the eventual reality.
It's been three years since TechCrunch said a Facebook Phone was in the works. CNET and Business Insider independently corroborated the story, and Bloomberg followed up with the actual manufacturer and Facebook's (NASDAQ: FB ) wireless carrier partner for the device.
Well, the phone never never happened. Facebook did eventually team up with HTC earlier this year to put out an Android phone with a Facebook-centric interface, but it was a flop. It wasn't the full-blown Facebook Phone that the market originally envisioned. That's probably a good thing, since it would have been more embarrassing for Facebook if it had put out its own phone and faltered, instead of offering up a layer that became available on many Android devices this year as Facebook Home.
Google's Nexus Q
Some products go beyond the rumor phase but never officially make it to market. Google (NASDAQ: GOOG ) unveiled the Nexus Q, an orb-shaped media streaming device, two summers ago during the 2012 Google I/O event. It was even handed out to attendees to generate buzz.
However, the stiff $299 price tag and limited features found it quickly panned in tech blogs. Google decided to discontinue the product before anybody had a chance to actually pay for it, reportedly sending them to those on the Nexus Q's pre-order list for free. CNN named the Nexus Q one of the 10 biggest flops of last year.
Amazon's Fire Tube
Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN ) doesn't shy away from the hardware market. The Kindle e-reader and Kindle Fire tablet show that Amazon isn't afraid of putting out products that may create a conflict of interest with the consumer tech companies selling products through its virtual storefront. That reality has led to reports surfacing that Amazon is working on its own smartphone or its own set-top box.
Since we've already talked about a smartphone that never happened, let's delve into the Amazon set-top device. Since Apple has Apple TV and Google went through Google TV and now Chromecast, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Amazon make a splash here. It's been investing heavily in its streaming video platform, and anything that it can do to make it easier for customers to have access there is worthwhile for the leading online retailer.
This one could very well happen. Initial reports had Amazon releasing what the market is dubbing Fire Tube this holiday season. That's not going to happen, but last month's chatter indicated that the device was simply being delayed. A release early next year is still possible.
Microsoft's Xbox Portable
Diehard gamers may be gearing up for Friday's debut of Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT ) Xbox One, but is the software giant leaving money on the table by not following its two console rivals into handheld systems?
The 3DS and PS Vita have been able to carve out niche audiences even as Apple and Google's Android have invaded this space with smartphones and tablets that play perfectly acceptable casual or social games. This would seem to open the door for an Xbox-fueled portable gaming device. Microsoft's Zune media player would have probably fared considerably better if it hadn't been just a media-streaming iPod wannabe.
The chatter for a handheld Xbox platform has been the handiwork of diehard gamers venting out loud through gaming sites and blogs. It's more wishful thinking than it is any supply-chain reads. However, this is still an often discussed gadget that we have yet to see.
Wearable computing is going to be a big thing, and it's a surprise that Apple hasn't followed Pebble into smart watches or Google into Google Glass computing specs.
The watch seems to be the safer bet, and it would seem to be an even easier product to put out than Apple's long-rumored smart TV, since there are no content deals to hash out. It hasn't happened, of course, and that's a surprise, since Apple's come under fire for a lack of innovation since Steve Jobs passed away. Apple isn't running out of -- well, time to make this happen, but the competition is raising the bar before Cupertino even has a chance to set it.
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