“A decade ago, MTV debuted a show called Punk’d in which Ashton Kutcher would play elaborate practical jokes on celebrities before the big reveal at the end of each episode,” Mark Rogowsky reports for Forbes. “While the setup isn’t quite the same, it’s possible that Japan’s Nikkei played the role of Kutcher this Sunday and the Wall Street Journal acted as the duped celebrity with a breathless report suggesting iPhone orders are about to fall off a cliff.”

“It started when the Journal reported: ‘Apple’s orders for iPhone 5 screens for the first quarter, for example, have dropped to roughly half of what the company had planned to order, the people said.”’ What’s missing from that quote, however, is what Nikkei originally included and can still be found on Reuters (although no longer on WSJ ): ‘Apple has asked Japan Display, Sharp and LG Display Co Ltd to roughly halve supplies of LCD panels from an initial plan for about 65 million screens in January-March, the Nikkei cited people familiar with the situation as saying,'” Rogowsky reports. “And that 65 million number we know is completely absurd.”

That didn’t stop “a credulous WSJ from running the story as front-page news just eight days ahead of Apple’s Jan. 23 earnings announcement,” Rogowsky reports. “It’s pile-on season for the Cupertino, Calif. consumer-electronics giant, which has apparently ‘lost its edge’ according to most everything you read these days. It’s an interesting spin given that the company sold 37 million iPhones in the [2011] holiday quarter… and even the lowest end of the forecast would be a 20 percent boost to that number. (At 50 million, year-over-year growth would be 35 percent.)”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Here’s a snippet from the WSJ‘s yarn:

Apple Inc. has cut its component orders for the iPhone 5 because of weaker-than-expected demand, people familiar with the situation said Monday, indicating sales of the latest smartphone haven’t been as strong as anticipated… Japan’s Nikkei reported Monday that Apple has slashed its orders for iPhone 5 components.Juro Osawa, The Wall Street Journal, January 13, 2013

We questioned this “weaker-than-expected-demand” bearshit conclusion that was initiated in the Nikkei FUD and repeated ad nauseam in the days afterward the second we read it. Why didn’t The Wall Street Journal?

We are left with five questions:

• Who planted the FUD at Nikkei?
• How much money did they make, if indeed they did make any money?
• Who approved the publication of this poorly-sourced, unsubstantiated, rife-with-speculation tale at the WSJ?
• How much money did they make, if indeed they did make any money?
• Just how much noise will the SEC sleep through?

Contact info:
— Editorial Inquiries at Nikkei.com: ecntct@nikkei.co.jp
— Juro Osawa: juro.osawa@wsj.com
— WSJ Letters to the Editor: wsj.ltrs@wsj.com

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Doug W.” for the heads up.]

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