The Engadget blog recently reported (erroneously) that the Apple iPhone launch was being delayed and pushed back from June to October. This, however, was a major false alarm and it's caused a huge, huge mess. How huge? Over $4 billion was knocked off Apple's market capitalization - which means that a lot of people lost a lot of money in a matter of minutes.
Additionally, a story (more accurately, a forum thread) regarding the iPhone false alarm was recently submitted to Digg stating that Engadget was being investigated for $535,000,000 in stock price manipulation. Well, that's not true. At least not now anyway. And even if they were investigated it's doubtful they'd have any liability. Apple, on the other hand, could have some explaining to do.
So what the hell really happened? To make a long story short, according to Engadget, a "trustworthy" source had supplied them with an internal email (or what seemed to be one) from Apple - an email that had gone out (supposedly) to some of the Apple employees.
That email, however, was a hoax and was retracted by Apple who quickly notified Engadget stating, "This communication is fake and did not come from Apple. Apple is on track to ship iPhone in late June and Mac OS X Leopard in October." Bottom line, Engadget really screwed up here. They should have known enough to have confirmed the email with Apple prior to publishing, but they didn't. And boy, what a mess.
But the good news I guess is that the iPhone and Leopard are still in fact fully expected to meet their targeted release dates. As for the email hoax itself, Apple is (according to Engadget) on a hunt to find whoever seemingly spoofed their email system with the incorrect iPhone and Leopard product release info. So while Engadget is most likely in the clear legally (unless they traded stocks during that time period), Apple could have some problems if the feds find that the email did indeed originate from their servers.
What's the total damage so far? Apple's stock promptly dropped, going from $107.89 to $103.42 in just six minutes, which quickly wiped about $4 billion off of Apple's market capitalization. Ouch! So is there a lesson to be learned here? You bet there is. Just check out Engadget Shanks Apple to see what it is.