Exclusive: TheStreet.com’s Tech Exclusives Are a Crapshoot

By  |  Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 4:07 pm

TheStreet.com’s Scott Moritz has an exciting exclusive: Northeast Securities analyst Ashok Kumar has learned that Microsoft is working on a Microsoft-branded phone based on its Windows Phone 7 Series OS. It’ll be manufactured by HTC Asus, and software problems have postponed its release into 2011.

The story would seem to give new life to old rumors about a Microsoft phone, code-named project “Pink.” Except…Scott Moritz stories headlined as”exclusives”–usually crediting Kumar for the scoop–have a crummy track record of exclusively revealing stuff that turns out to be true. When I see them, my instinctive response is skepticism, not bland acceptance of anything in the story as gospel.

Shall we recap?

The exclusive: Verizon, disgruntled over Palm Pre sales, decides not to sell the phone:

The upshot: At January’s CES show, Verizon Wireless announced it would sell Palm’s Pre Plus and Pixi Plus, starting later that month. (Of course, it’s conceivable that Verizon changed its mind, and if you want to get really technical, you might contend that the Pre Plus isn’t a Pre.)

The exclusive: Google plans to to sell an Android phone through retailers by the end of the year, bypassing wireless carriers, says Kumar:

The upshot: The Google phone is real, and it almost shipped in 2009. Moritz’s story says it will use a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip (correct) and speculates that it might be built by HTC (ditto). But it’s sold direct by Google, not at retail–and it’s offered with a rather non-disruptive T-Mobile contract.

The exclusive: Kumar says that the much-anticipated Apple tablet will use a chip from Apple’s own PA Semi division, not an Intel CPU:

The upshot: Bingo! (Of course, the real surprise would have been if the iPhone-like iPad did use an Intel processor.)

The exclusive: A new iPhone available on Verizon Wireless this summer will pack a Qualcomm wireless chip, Kumar says:

The upshot: We may not know for a few months if there’s anything to this one.

The exclusive: Kumar has learned that the Apple tablet will use Verizon Wireless for broadband–proven by its use of a Qualcomm chip:

The upshot: Less than a week later, Apple unveiled the iPad. Its 3G version will run on AT&T. I’m not sure if anyone who isn’t involved with manufacturing of iPads knows for sure if there’s any Qualcomm technology inside.

That’s three exclusives that turned out to be completely or partially bogus, one that was correct, and two (counting the new Microsoft one) that may or may not amount to anything. Even if you assume that both the Qualcomm iPhone and Microsoft phone exclusives will pan out, chances would be fifty percent that Moritz was right, and fifty percent that he was wrong.

Anyone want to explain why Moritz keeps relaying Kumar’s rumors as “exclusive” facts–and why TheStreet lets him do so?

(Previously on Technologizer: A year ago, I explained how to gauge rumors about Apple products. I wasn’t thinking specifically of Moritz’s stories–none of the ones here had appeared yet, and not all of them are Apple “exclusives”–but they’re good case studies.)

 
39 Comments


Read more: , , ,

9 Comments For This Post

  1. Blair Says:

    Great post, Harry. You are hitting on a key problem in technology journalism, wild speculation with no regard for facts.

  2. Zatz Says:

    There’s not much accountability in blogging or analysis. :/ It’s all about the traffic. Their M.O. is: Make exclusive sh*t up! Maybe you’ll be right 20% of the time. Regardless, ad revenue (and analyst report subscriptions) will sore.

  3. Scott Moritz Says:

    I like what you’ve done here Dr. McCracken.
    Yes, information can be a crapshoot — especially when decisions are still in their early stages. Trusted, knowledgeable sources with their noses right in the action, can be wrong, even when they are right. Verizon can honor an agreement with Palm but offer little marketing support. AT&T can negotiate an 11th hour deal to yank the iPad out of Verizon’s hands.
    Break some news and discover the anxiety for yourself.
    Scott Moritz

  4. Glenn Hall Says:

    Unless I’m missing something, this post is finding value in Scott’s reporting because it only notes 1 miss out of 5 and acknowledges that the only miss could be the result of a deal changing late in the game — and that happens folks.

    In craps, this would be a winning run.

  5. Evan Says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with the point of the article.

    However, it should be noted that the device manufacturer that supposedly Microsoft is working with isn’t HTC, but ASUS. You mention at the start of the article that it’s the HTC-manufactured device that’s at the heart of the problem, but that’s not what Mr. Moritz originally reported in his story.

    Just wanted to clarify. As it stands, HTC and LG are supposedly still going full-steam ahead with their Windows Phone 7 devices.

  6. Harry McCracken Says:

    @Evan: Right you are–thanks for the correction.

  7. Harry McCracken Says:

    Mr. Moritz,

    We know that sources with good contacts are sometimes wrong, and that all situations are fluid. So why write stories that seem to suggest otherwise?

    –Harry

  8. DTNick Says:

    As far as I’m concerned, it’s *all* rumor until the product is announced.

  9. Zatz Says:

    It’s an exclusive rumor, hunch, or wish! But not really exclusive to us, since it came from someone else!

30 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. ParisLemon » Analysts FTW Says:

    [...] Exclusive: TheStreet.com’s Tech Exclusives Are a Crapshoot » [...]

  2. Harry McCracken on Scott Moritz | World Wide Web Says:

    [...] View full post on Daring Fireball [...]

  3. Harry McCracken on Scott Moritz « Says:

    [...] Original source : http://technologizer.com/2010/02/18/exclusive-thes… [...]

  4. Top Posts — WordPress.com Says:

    [...] Exclusive: TheStreet.com’s Tech Exclusives Are a Crapshoot TheStreet.com’s Scott Moritz has an exciting exclusive: Northeast Securities analyst Ashok Kumar has learned that [...] [...]

  5. Analyst Eightball: See What We Mean? | The Iphone Blog Says:

    [...] Well, we’re hardly the only ones to notice, and Harry McCracken from Technologizer has taken apart some of the analyses of TheStreet.com. He particularly calls out the combination of writer Scott Moritz and Northeast Securities analyst [...]

  6. Analyst Eightball: See What We Mean? | iPhoneBizBlog Says:

    [...] Well, we’re hardly the only ones to notice, and Harry McCracken from Technologizer has taken apart some of the analyses of TheStreet.com. He particularly calls out the combination of writer Scott Moritz and Northeast Securities analyst [...]

  7. TheStreet.com’s crappy tech ’exclusives’ in pictures « Credibull Says:

    [...] points out TheStreet.com’s abysmal history of using the headline keyword “exclusive” in place of “rumor” or “we [...]

  8. Analyst Eightball: See What We Mean? Says:

    [...] Well, we’re hardly the only ones to notice, and Harry McCracken from Technologizer has taken apart some of the analyses of TheStreet.com. He particularly calls out the combination of writer Scott Moritz and Northeast Securities analyst [...]

  9. Word on TheStreet is that you shouldn't buy an iPhone 4 | iPhone, iPad Weblog Says:

    [...] Yahoo (remember them? They’re the search engine you used before Google) jumps right in with 5 reasons not to buy the iPhone 4. Well, that’s what it’s called on their front page where it is prominently linked. When you click through it’s actually titled: “5 Big Blemishes for the Apple iPhone 4″ so you can see they’re ramping up the hyperbole machine. The story is actually syndicated from TheStreet.com (home of Jim “didn’t see the economic crisis coming” Cramer) and written by Scott Moritz, whose track record is so bad someone has compiled them. [...]

  10. iWyre Says:

    [...] Yahoo (remember them? They’re the search engine you used before Google) jumps right in with 5 reasons not to buy the iPhone 4. Well, that’s what it’s called on their front page where it is prominently linked. When you click through it’s actually titled: “5 Big Blemishes for the Apple iPhone 4″ so you can see they’re ramping up the hyperbole machine. The story is actually syndicated from TheStreet.com (home of Jim “didn’t see the economic crisis coming” Cramer) and written by Scott Moritz, whose track record is so bad someone has compiled them. [...]

  11. Word on TheStreet is that you shouldn’t buy an iPhone 4 Says:

    [...] Yahoo (remember them? They’re the search engine you used before Google) jumps right in with 5 reasons not to buy the iPhone 4. Well, that’s what it’s called on their front page where it is prominently linked. When you click through it’s actually titled: “5 Big Blemishes for the Apple iPhone 4″ so you can see they’re ramping up the hyperbole machine. The story is actually syndicated from TheStreet.com (home of Jim “didn’t see the economic crisis coming” Cramer) and written by Scott Moritz, whose track record is so bad someone has compiled them. [...]

  12. Word on TheStreet is that you shouldn’t buy an iPhone 4 | Tech News Ninja Says:

    [...] Yahoo (remember them? They’re the search engine you used before Google) jumps right in with 5 reasons not to buy the iPhone 4. Well, that’s what it’s called on their front page where it is prominently linked. When you click through it’s actually titled: “5 Big Blemishes for the Apple iPhone 4″ so you can see they’re ramping up the hyperbole machine. The story is actually syndicated from TheStreet.com (home of Jim “didn’t see the economic crisis coming” Cramer) and written by Scott Moritz, whose track record is so bad someone has compiled them. [...]

  13. Word on TheStreet is that you shouldn’t buy an iPhone 4 | iPhone Firmware Says:

    [...] Yahoo (remember them? They’re the search engine you used before Google) jumps right in with 5 reasons not to buy the iPhone 4. Well, that’s what it’s called on their front page where it is prominently linked. When you click through it’s actually titled: “5 Big Blemishes for the Apple iPhone 4″ so you can see they’re ramping up the hyperbole machine. The story is actually syndicated from TheStreet.com (home of Jim “didn’t see the economic crisis coming” Cramer) and written by Scott Moritz, whose track record is so bad someone has compiled them. [...]

  14. Word on TheStreet is that you shouldn’t buy an iPhone 4 | IPhone news, updates and Iphone information Says:

    [...] Yahoo (remember them? They're the search engine you used before Google) jumps right in with 5 reasons not to buy the iPhone 4. Well, that's what it's called on their front page where it is prominently linked. When you click through it's actually titled: "5 Big Blemishes for the Apple iPhone 4" so you can see they're ramping up the hyperbole machine. The story is actually syndicated from TheStreet.com (home of Jim "didn't see the economic crisis coming" Cramer) and written by Scott Moritz, whose track record is so bad someone has compiled them. [...]

  15. Word on TheStreet is that you shouldn’t buy an iPhone 4 | touchmyiphone.com Says:

    [...] Yahoo (remember them? They're the search engine you used before Google) jumps right in with 5 reasons not to buy the iPhone 4. Well, that's what it's called on their front page where it is prominently linked. When you click through it's actually titled: "5 Big Blemishes for the Apple iPhone 4" so you can see they're ramping up the hyperbole machine. The story is actually syndicated from TheStreet.com (home of Jim "didn't see the economic crisis coming" Cramer) and written by Scott Moritz, whose track record is so bad someone has compiled them. [...]

  16. Word on TheStreet is that you shouldn’t buy an iPhone 4 | oQlz Blog Says:

    [...] Yahoo (remember them? They're the search engine you used before Google) jumps right in with 5 reasons not to buy the iPhone 4. Well, that's what it's called on their front page where it is prominently linked. When you click through it's actually titled: "5 Big Blemishes for the Apple iPhone 4" so you can see they're ramping up the hyperbole machine. The story is actually syndicated from TheStreet.com (home of Jim "didn't see the economic crisis coming" Cramer) and written by Scott Moritz, whose track record is so bad someone has compiled them. [...]

  17. Word on TheStreet is that you shouldn’t buy an iPhone 4 | Free iPad - One Time Offer! Says:

    [...] Filed under: iPhone Two things are for certain: the iPhone 4 will be a huge success and there will be plenty of places that look to cash in by writing link bait headlines. Yahoo (remember them? They’re the search engine you used before Google) jumps right in with 5 reasons not to buy the iPhone 4. Well, that’s what it’s called on their front page where it is prominently linked. When you click through it’s actually titled: “5 Big Blemishes for the Apple iPhone 4″ so you can see they’re ramping up the hyperbole machine. The story is actually syndicated from TheStreet.com (home of Jim “didn’t see the economic crisis coming” Cramer) and written by Scott Moritz, whose track record is so bad someone has compiled them. [...]

  18. Word on TheStreet is that you shouldn’t buy an iPhone 4 | Design City Says:

    [...] Yahoo (remember them? They’re the search engine you used before Google) jumps right in with 5 reasons not to buy the iPhone 4. Well, that’s what it’s called on their front page where it is prominently linked. When you click through it’s actually titled: “5 Big Blemishes for the Apple iPhone 4″ so you can see they’re ramping up the hyperbole machine. The story is actually syndicated from TheStreet.com (home of Jim “didn’t see the economic crisis coming” Cramer) and written by Scott Moritz, whose track record is so bad someone has compiled them. [...]

  19. Word on TheStreet is that you shouldn’t buy an iPhone 4 - Latest Technology Trends Says:

    [...] Yahoo (remember them? They’re the search engine you used before Google) jumps right in with 5 reasons not to buy the iPhone 4. Well, that’s what it’s called on their front page where it is prominently linked. When you click through it’s actually titled: “5 Big Blemishes for the Apple iPhone 4″ so you can see they’re ramping up the hyperbole machine. The story is actually syndicated from TheStreet.com (home of Jim “didn’t see the economic crisis coming” Cramer) and written by Scott Moritz, whose track record is so bad someone has compiled them. [...]

  20. Word on TheStreet is that you shouldn’t buy an iPhone 4 | Mobile Phone Files Download Says:

    [...] Yahoo (remember them? They’re the search engine you used before Google) jumps right in with 5 reasons not to buy the iPhone 4. Well, that’s what it’s called on their front page where it is prominently linked. When you click through it’s actually titled: “5 Big Blemishes for the Apple iPhone 4″ so you can see they’re ramping up the hyperbole machine. The story is actually syndicated from TheStreet.com (home of Jim “didn’t see the economic crisis coming” Cramer) and written by Scott Moritz, whose track record is so bad someone has compiled them. [...]

  21. Word on TheStreet is that you shouldn’t buy an iPhone 4 « Apple « Apple News Fan Page Says:

    [...] coming” Cramer), as well as is created by Scott Moritz, whose lane jot down is so bad someone has compiled the list of his bad [...]

  22. Apple-Overload! » Word on TheStreet is that you shouldn’t buy an iPhone 4 Says:

    [...] Yahoo (remember them? They’re the search engine you used before Google) jumps right in with 5 reasons not to buy the iPhone 4. Well, that’s what it’s called on their front page where it is prominently linked. When you click through it’s actually titled: “5 Big Blemishes for the Apple iPhone 4″ so you can see they’re ramping up the hyperbole machine. The story is actually syndicated from TheStreet.com (home of Jim “didn’t see the economic crisis coming” Cramer) and written by Scott Moritz, whose track record is so bad someone has compiled them. [...]

  23. Word on TheStreet is that you shouldn’t buy an iPhone 4 | iPhone 3G Tricks Says:

    [...] crisis coming” Cramer), and is written by Scott Moritz, whose track record is so poor someone has compiled a list of his bad [...]

  24. Word on TheStreet is that you shouldn’t buy an iPhone 4 : The iPhone Dock - Latest iPhone News and Blogs Says:

    [...] crisis coming” Cramer), and is written by Scott Moritz, whose track record is so poor someone has compiled a list of his bad [...]

  25. iPhone 4: The Fix is In(side)? Says:

    [...] Scott Moritz is reporting that analyst Ashok Kumar has learned that Apple has figured out how to resolve the iPhone 4′s lower-left-hand-corner reception glitch. The fix supposedly involves an internal component that will insulate the antenna from [...]

  26. Is the White iPhone Leaky? Says:

    [...] I’m instinctively skeptical of news reported by TheStreet.com’s Scott Moritz. (Among other things, he said that Apple was “likely” to respond to iPhone 4 antennagate by using its press [...]

  27. Oh, Ashtok… Says:

    [...] guess we can be thankful he didn’t run off to TheStreet.com this time to push his seemingly meaningless analysis. Maybe they’ve wisened up?   Be [...]

  28. Oh, Ashok… « Apple Hot News Says:

    [...] guess we can be thankful he didn’t run off to TheStreet.com this time to push his “analysis.” Maybe they’ve wised up? Nevermind, they [...]

  29. Analyzing Ashok Kumar Says:

    [...] Posted at 10:41 am on Wednesday, September 22, 2010 I’ve said that that analyst Ashok Kumar frequently comes up with scoops that turn out to be anywhere from not exactly correct to flat-out wr…. My colleague Ed Oswald made the same point earlier this week when Kumar said a 7-inch iPad is on [...]

  30. And That’s What You Missed on Technologizer Says:

    [...] kept quoting an analyst with a knack for being utterly wrong, and I wondered [...]