Apple hasn't attended the Consumer Electronics Show since Nirvana's "Nevermind" topped the Billboard charts, but that doesn't stop the company from casting a very long shadow over the event. It seems that even now, Apple news and rumors have a way of weeding themselves into the tech blogosphere during the very time that everyone's attention should be directed elsewhere.
Of course, that trend stayed consistent this week with 9to5Mac's juicy 12-inch MacBook Air rumor.
To study the phenomenon, Graham Spencer has compiled a history of Apple news and rumors during CES dating back to 2007. It's an interesting roundup.
From '07 to '09, Apple introduced the iPhone, new Macs, DRM-free iTunes music, and more. But it's worth noting that up to 2009, Apple was also exhibiting at Macworld Expo, which happened concurrently or nearly at the same time as CES did.
After that, most of the times Apple's name appeared in headlines it was rumors, though 2011 broke from that with news about the iPhone coming to Verizon and the introduction of the Mac App Store.
Spencer offers his idea of what's going on:
If I was to take an estimated guess at what is happening, I'd say that Apple will gladly delay or bring forward an announcement if they can – but I certainly don't see it as a deliberate or methodical goal to distract the CES frenzy every year. But I'll let you judge for yourself.
I don't think CES factors into Apple's decision to either announce things or leak information to the press one way or the other. After pulling up stakes from Macworld Expo, Apple made the deliberate decision to focus attention for its products by manufacturing its own events rather than riding on another's coattails.
The timing of CES inevitably leads to some overlap, though. It comes during the first week of January, and the last couple of weeks of December are notoriously slow for tech news in general and Apple news in particular, partly since many staffers at Apple HQ in Cupertino take some time off around the holidays.
So there's an understandable desire from bloggers and tech journos to shake the cage a bit and get people interested again, so rumors and speculation pick up. What's more, Apple's back at work, so if an announcement comes, it comes.