[UPDATED] Suspiciousness and Speculation: Why Apple released iChat update 1.0 YESTERDAY, and not at Macworld - Macenstein

[UPDATED] Suspiciousness and Speculation: Why Apple released iChat update 1.0 YESTERDAY, and not at Macworld

Posted by Helper Monkey

Yesterday my Software Update utility popped up with a message that it had an update for iChat ready for my computer. The description read:

This update renews the .Mac certificate required by iChat for encrypting text, audio and video conferences.

For detailed information on this update, please visit this website: http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=304899

Apple’s site lists the update at 2.3 MB (PPC) and 3.9 MB (Universal), although the Software Update lists them at 3.0 MB and 4.5 MB respectively. This seems a bit big to me for something that does nothing more than update the security certificate (not that I’m a programmer with particular insight into how big such an update SHOULD be, but the size just seemed odd to me). So I thought to myself, “OK, there’s got to be more to it, let’s click the included ‘more info’ link.” The resulting page, however, had little additional info, and actually seemed intentionally vague. In addition to the above description from Software Update, all that it says is “This document will be updated as more information becomes available.

Now, when have you ever seen that?

I’ll tell you when. Never. So what is the deal? Why is the update so large? Why is ALL the info about the update not available? Does it include hints at the iPhone, new video conferencing codecs, or something do to with iTV or a new Mystery Product?

Here is my conspiracy theory of the day. Yes, the update DOES indeed include hints to new functionality dealing with one or more of the rumored goodies above, and (here’s the kicker) Apple intentionally released it to generate a buzz going into Macworld. Why do I think that? Because I drink too much coffee, and MacWorld is only 4 days away. Why else? Well, think about it:

Suspicious Thing One: The last .Mac update was at the last Macworld, held January 9-13th, 2006. Its security certificate is probably not slated to run out until at least the 9th of this year, if not later. Did it really NEED to be posted yesterday? Most people do not have their Software Updates set to check daly for new updates. Even if it DID expire exactly on January 9th, the majority of iChat users would probably not have seen the update before it expired, and would get a message prompting them to update on the 9th, and everything would be hunky dory. While it is entirely possible that Apple just wants to give the more update-aware iChat users a heads up, my Spider-sense is tingling.

Suspicious Thing Two: It is a very safe assumption that .Mac will receive an update next week at Macworld as well (in fact, Amazon also blew the lid on that too, just like iLife ’07 and iWork ’07). Since from the wording, this update might only affect .Mac users of iChat, and not AIM users of iChat, the update could have been released next week alongside the updated .Mac stuff people will likely need to download.

Suspicious Thing Three: The size. Again, I have no idea how big a security certificate update SHOULD be, but I am thinking somewhere in the 300 KB – 1.0 MB range. 3.9 MB is just too large for it to just be a security certificate renewal. In fact, the iChat AV 2.1 download from 2004 was only 4.3 MB, and that added the entire video conferencing feature! There is also no reason the update should be THAT Much larger (1.6 MB) for the Universal version than the Power PC version in order to update a certificate. It means something fairly big is being changed under the hood that requires more changes on Intel’s hardware.

Suspicious Thing Four: Not only is there a lack of a detailed description about the update, the “more info” page specifically tells you that there IS more info for the update, they just don’t have it yet. Really? It’s not available? Why? Who would have that info available if not Apple?

OK, so by now I assume you are all mightily impressed with my Sherlock Holmes-esque sleuthing, and are all utterly convinced the update is suspicious. (Just humor me).

So, why would Apple unnecessarily release an iChat update 5 days before Macworld, and use it to taunt us with things to come? Well, despite a long and litigious history of being secretive, I think Apple actually WANTS us to figure out what new iChat related announcement is coming next week. That’s right, I think they purposely planted this update with the knowledge that at some point over this weekend (if not sooner) some hacker will examine the package contents and discover that there is a line of code somewhere mentioning “iPhone, Wi-Fi, iTV” or something cool, and spread it around the internet.

Why would they do that?

Every year, usually days before a Macworld, there is some “slip up”, either from a 3rd party vendor, or in many cases, Apple itself, that lets the cat out of the bag about the biggest announcements coming out of Macworld. Macworld traditionally comes on a Tuesday, and these leaks traditionally come over the preceding weekend. This causes a HUGE buzz on the internet, even people who don’t care too much about Apple are intrigued by the “leak” aspect of the story. It gains them a little extra umph going in to the Expo. While the idea that Steve Jobs wants to have every announcement he makes at Macworld be a total surprise, the reality of that in this day and age is almost impossible. For over a year we have all heard of an iPhone. The “true” video iPod has been discussed even before the “fake” video iPod debuted. We all expect Apple to adopt the same new quad-core chips other PC vendors are, just to stay competitive. There will really be nothing overly “shocking” announced at Macworld. Sure, no one knows the actual specifications of the iTV or iPhone or video iPod, but we all know they are coming. Many of us think we know what Steve will be talking about come the 9th and think we have known it for so long, that we aren’t chomping at the bit as much as usual.

Well, I say that Apple’s release of the iChat update is designed specifically to remedy that. Mark my words, this weekend or Monday at the latest, we will hear of some new “leak” linked to that iChat update. And I am going to put my money where my mouth is. If I am wrong, you can each buy me an iPhone.

[UPDATE:] APPLE HAS REMOVED THE LINE “This document will be updated as more information becomes available.” FROM THEIR WEB SITE.

6 Responses to “[UPDATED] Suspiciousness and Speculation: Why Apple released iChat update 1.0 YESTERDAY, and not at Macworld”
  1. Tony Orlando says:

    I think I agree with you that something else is there. It’s weird they would actually admit there is more information coming about the update. I don’t see why they even put that line up there.

  2. Darrick says:

    I am guess it is a new codec that they don’t want to reveal. This way you can video chat with users of the new iSight. 😉


  3. Darrick says:

    It looks legitimate. Each language has a license RTF file, localized strings for the installer, etc. The Russian license file is 200K as an example. The executable is very small inside the package. So much for all of those comments, including mine.


  4. Tony Orlando says:

    hmm.. doesn’t apple put a different update for each language?
    Would they update all 40 or so language’s with the same installer?

    And why the size difference between the PowerPC and Intel one?

    Maybe I just WANT there to be something hidden there.


  5. Tony Orlando says:

    not sure if them removing that line makes this MORE or LESS suspicious than before.
    I guess we’ll find out Tuesday!

  6. Joe says:

    Did you read the last paragraph of the license agreement? Is that new? It deals with communicating over cellular networks. Maybe the new iPhone will allow you to chat directly with iChat users…?

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