Rumor Check: Apple Layoffs on the Way?

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Ready for your weekly serving of fresh Apple gossip? Major layoffs are coming to Cupertino, a new rumor predicts. As usual, you may want to take the report with a grain of salt.

Tipster Talk

The rumor, published Tuesday afternoon by tech blog Valleywag, cites two anonymous "tipsters." The first simply mentions the "major layoffs." The second notes that Apple's sales teams have all been scheduled for "mandatory meetings today," and the human resources department was behind the conference room bookings. Valleywag points to Steve Jobs' general preference for customer-direct online sales as a factor that could add weight to the whisperings.

A user comment on the same story ties the rumor to Apple's retail stores, which are currently preparing for the much discussed Microsoft competition. "Friend at Apple Retail location in CA was called in this morning," the comment claims. "[Stated] that it's related to the layoff rumors."

Timing Considerations

Earlier Tuesday, Apple announced new lines of iMacs, Mac Minis, and Mac Pros--something Valleywag suggests might be a "conveniently timed distraction." One could also, however, view the product launch as something that eats away at the rumor's credibility.

"I don't know why it would be a good time to announce layoffs," says Roger Kay, president of technology analysis firm Endpoint Technologies Associates. "I think that there's probably less truth to it than rumor."

Had Apple experienced a bad quarter, Kay suggests, then preceding layoffs with positive news might make sense. But the fact that Apple has yet to reveal any negative news, he believes, makes that timing seem a lot less logical. While Apple has likely experienced slumping sales to some degree, its progress has been largely positive--and an out-of-nowhere announcement would seem a bit strange.

Consider, too, that if Apple were making cutbacks at its Cupertino headquarters, the company would have had to file a notification with state offices. Such a notification, reports indicate, has not been filed since last spring.

Regular Rumors

Bear in mind that a new Apple rumor seems to surface every several days. (Remember last week's iPhone on Verizon buzz?) Sure, some of them turn out to have truth, but the vast majority end up fizzling away in the Web's virtual gossip mill. Between the ever-present $99 iPhone idea and the occasional death (or near-death) of Steve Jobs, there's always some sort of scuttlebutt on the table--and all you can do is treat each one with a healthy dose of skepticism.

If you're still not convinced, consider the new word just published byThe Wall Street Journal : "People familiar with the matter say that no conference rooms have been booked ... and that there is no massive layoff Tuesday as has been rumored."

He said, she said. See you back here in a few days for the next go-round.

This story, "Rumor Check: Apple Layoffs on the Way?" was originally published by PCWorld.

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