Bad Reporting in Progress II – Or How MS *Still* Didn't Invent the iPod

Last Friday I gave Wizbang readers a heads up on how bad reporting was happening in real time. It was about the case of Microsoft supposedly patenting the iPod technology after Apple shipped it.

As I said at the time, the Microsoft application (and yes dear readers, it is still just an application) will obviously be rejected because (among other reasons) you can’t patent something that someone else already ships.

I said Friday, we could watch the story grow from the original report on a rumor site to techweb to the The Independent who even made up bogus numbers to make the story more dramatic. Now we can follow the story another step with another reporter embellishing the story along the way…

Report: Microsoft to profit from iPod

LONDON, Aug. 13 (UPI) — Microsoft’s Bill Gates could make a killing off of rival Apple Computer’s iPod, The Independent Online reported.

Apple might have to pay Microsoft royalties for every iPod it sells, the Independent said, because Microsoft beat Steve Jobs’ company to the patent office and secured a crucial patent on technology used in the iPod. [Editors note- They Microsoft DID NOT “secure” a patent, it’s still an application.] …

The paper said iPods account for three of every four portable music players bought in the United States, and represent almost one-third of Apple’s sales. One analyst told the Independent Apple will sell 25 million iPods this year — bringing the total sold in the four years it has been on the market to 35 million. …

The bottom line: Apple could have to pay Microsoft a license fee of up to $10 for each iPod.

Notice anything missing from that last line where the reporter offered us “The bottom line” on it? How about the words “according to.” As in “Apple will have to pay $10 per iPod according to someone other than the reporter.” This reporter gets it from The Independent and embellishes it some more as he retells it. This is no better than backyard gossip at this point.

The “Bottom Line” here is that reporters are just making stuff up! Who are the industry experts who came up with this $10 figure? Watch this figure take its place in mythology:

Apple Patent Loss May Earn Microsoft $10 Per iPod
Scottish Daily Record

Apple has so far sold more than 21 million of the pocket-sized players. In the past year alone, the company sold 18 million. Reports indicate iPods account for three of every four portable music players bought in the United States, and represent almost one-third of Apple’s sales.

Computer giant Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) may be forced to pay royalties to arch-enemy Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) for every iPod it sells.

A patenting blunder means Bill Gates’ firm could rake in as much as US$10 from every one of his rival’s music player that is sold.

According to????

Apple Cock-Up May Earn Microsoft $10 Per iPod
Mike Slocombe

Apple may be forced to shell out royalties to Microsoft for every single iPod it sells after it emerged that Microsoft was first to file a crucial patent on technology used in its iPod. …

The dispute could lead to Apple having to pay a licence fee for the technology of up to $10 a machine

According to???

After extensive searching I can find no industry analyst who takes this seriously… In fact there have been a few reporters who actually interviewed people rather than make stuff up and they present a completely different picture:

Will Microsoft Get a Bite of Apple’s iPod?

Reports of Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) inability to patent the interface software…[snipped]

However, legal experts and industry analysts highlighted the lengthy process and potential hurdles to a Microsoft claim on the MP3 music organizer and player, and indicated that an AppleInsider and subsequent reports make a bigger story of what is standard patent procedure.

“All that has happened is Apple’s patent has received final rejection, and that is a non-event,” patent attorney and Townsend and Townsend and Crew partner Roger Cook told MacNewsWorld. “This is really making a mountain out of a molehill.” [Ya don’t say -ed] …

There has also been much made of the fact that part of the rejection was because of an earlier patent application that links back to Microsoft. Reports stated that the software giant might be entitled to as much as US$10 per iPod device, but Cook again said the facts were being added up incorrectly.

Cook called the prior patent application “again, a non-event,” and stressed the difference between Microsoft’s patent application and any kind of patent claim, which has not happened.

“It doesn’t even rise to the level of [patent] interference, yet,” he said.

At least someone bothered to ~you know~ do some reporting and interview someone rather than just make stuff up.

After reseaching this post for a while, I was almost scared to click the link when I found this headline, “The Real Deal On Microsoft’s Playlist Patent” but it turns out that Forbes did an excellent job. They actually read the Microsoft application(!) and found that it might not even overlap.

The Real Deal On Microsoft’s Playlist Patent
…The reports suggest that some component of the iPod interface may be infringing on Microsoft’s patent, and that Apple may be forced to pay royalties to Microsoft on millions of iPod units sold.

In truth, the patents in question might not even be directly related.

“Some people say patents are overlapping, and I’m not sure that’s accurate,” says Kaefer. “The characterization of the patent is not spot on.”

Indeed, news articles suggested that Microsoft’s patent surrounds the iconic iPod clickwheel. But its patent has to do more with the organization and delivery of digital media items.

This is a must read if you really want to know what this is all about.

And lastly dear reader, if you are not convinced yet that the media is completely full of bull, I give you the most obvious way to fact check this story. If the reports are true, Apple may have to give Microsoft a quarter of a billion dollars cash and untold billions in the future. Then somebody explain this:

Go ahead, click on it to see it full size… While the technology publications are reporting this as dooms day for Apple, it was the business publications getting the story right. This story was first published on Wednesday and really broke over the weekend. From Wed to Monday, Apple stock was up 10% and Microsoft was down.

Clearly Wall Street knows the whole thing is bogus. Of course if you read Wizbang, you knew it too.

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Update Infoworld is figuring it out too.

It's Now or Never
The Unwanted Murderer


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