Rumors have always been a part of the Apple community but it seems that recently they've taken on a new intensity with rumors about everything from the iPhone to Steve Jobs' health popping up on an almost daily basis. Are these rumors still just part of the fun of Apple or does something need to be done?

PC World Assistant Editor Nick Mediati: Apple Rumors Have Got to Go

I have a love-hate relationship with Apple rumors. Sure, it can be fun to speculate on what Apple's doing next, but--despite my learned colleague David Daw's silly fascination with the subject discussed later in this article--at some point over the past few years, Apple rumors went from being fun to being obnoxious. Here's why. David, I hope you learn something here.

Rumors Aren't a Reliable Indicator of What's To Happen

Personally, I don't feel I need to know what Apple is up to every minute of the day--but that's just me. While, yes, it might be good to pinpoint when a new product is coming out, rumors by their very nature are unreliable (more on that in a bit). And oftentimes, rumors are based on patent applications and on circumstantial evidence, which makes them less accurate, and therefore less useful than you might think.

Rumors Take Away the Element of Surprise

Speaking as a geek and a gadget fan, it's always fun when a company announces something new and cool without warning. Apple rumors spoil the surprise. And sometimes, those rumors get so fanciful and "out there" that when Apple does announce something, there's often a general feeling of being let down.

David, let's take the original iPad announcement. Remember all the hype and speculation surrounding it? Remember how it was expected to blow our minds? Then remember how it was derided as a big iPod Touch? Would we have been as disappointed at first if it wasn't so overhyped by rumors beforehand? I don't think so.

The iPad 2 is another example. Prior to the official announcement, rumors had it that the iPad 2 would have a "retina display" and an SD card slot. The iPad 2 was instead an incremental update to the hardware, with no significant hardware feature additions. Yawn.

Iffy Reporting

The following headline from pretty much sums up the biggest problem with the Apple rumor mill:

" iPhone 5 To Have NFC, Says Person Who Knows A Man With A Friend Who Works At Apple "

Ye gods!

Speaking of the iPhone 5, it may come out in late June. Unless it comes out this fall. But it may not come until next year.

Wait, what?

The fact of the matter, my dear David, is that none of us really knows who these "insider sources" are, and how reliable they are, so that makes it hard to put stock into any of the rumors. Unfortunately, all too often, rumors end up being reported as fact--or as something that'll almost assuredly happen, as evidenced by claims made by "extremely reliable" sources.

So, while a small part of me likes following the rumor mill, I wouldn't be too upset if the whole concept would just completely dry up and blow away. Surely David can see the logic here?

PC World Staff Editor David Daw: Rumors Are Half the Fun

I've been keeping my ear to the ground about the next Apple product for so long that I remember getting myself hyped up for an Apple tablet during the last millennium. In all that time, I'd like to think I've gained a few small insights into the Apple rumor mill starting with why it's lasted as long as it has--insights my esteemed colleague Nick Mediati doesn't seem to grasp.

They're Fun

Let's face it, the Apple rumor mill produces as many stories as it does because people like reading about what Apple might be doing. Nick may not enjoy it but for lots of people there's something enticing about the guessing game aspect of it and--to some degree--the wilder the better.

I suppose if nobody on earth knew the iPad was coming they couldn't be as disappointed as my stick-in-the-mud coworker apparently was, but I think the hype and corresponding disappointment was more a result of Apple's history of product launches (and with the idea of the Apple tablet itself) than some random rumor that suggested the cost of the new product would be $2.99, that it would run better than most PCs, and that it possibly would be able to cure all known diseases.

Rumors might lead to some disappointment, but they also lead to excitement. Nick apparently doesn't care about these issues: How close were we to getting it right? What's going to be the "one more thing" this time?

Taken with a grain of salt, the hype machine can be quite a ride. Some people may get let down when the products don't live up to every rumor making the rounds, but that says more about them than about rumors.

They Are Useful

One wonders why anyone bothers to read Apple rumors if, as Nick suggests, they're always wrong. The answer of course is that they're right at least some of the time and that information has value. For all Nick's hand-wringing about how inaccurate Apple rumors can be, they can also get a lot of details right months in advance.

Unlike a lot of companies, Apple doesn't tend to announce product launches or refreshes far in advance. Since Apple computers also tend to be big-ticket items, purchasing a Mac can sometimes be a risky proposition if Apple announces a refresh soon after your purchase.

Apple rumors may not be able to pinpoint product launches with pinpoint accuracy, but they can often give you a good idea if you should pick up a new iPad or hold out for a month or two. We can't know exactly what Apple has coming down the pipeline, but for a consumer, the educated guesses made by the Apple rumor community are still useful information.

It's What Apple Wants

With rare exceptions, what Apple wants Apple tends to get: Nick just has to get used to this. Once the company has a vision, it works tirelessly to make that vision a reality. So we have to assume if this state of affairs wasn't what Apple wanted they'd be working to change it. But why would they?

Sure, the Apple rumor-mill sometimes gets out of hand (for instance, I'm sure Steve Jobs isn't thrilled by the constant rumors about his health) but, in general, the process serves as good clean fun that builds up excitement for Apple products. My valued co-worker doesn't appear to grasp this.

Apple cracks down on Apple leaks sometimes, but only when they take away all the mystery like the iPhone 4 debacle. Apple doesn't want us to know exactly what they have in store, but the company actually likes to keep all of us--especially Nick--guessing what it is up to.