Apple Says “The Holiday Lineup is Set,” Nothing More, Nothing less

ref_phil_schillerSometimes, like today for instance, I think Apple’s (s aapl) PR department is given only one mandate: to confuse and titillate. Why today especially? They just contacted Gizmodo to notify them that while Gizmodo has Phil Schiller saying there won’t be any new Apple products this year…the actual quote is “the holiday lineup is set.”

So Apple seems to have gone out of its way to make sure that Giz doesn’t go around paraphrasing execs when the blog should be reporting exact quotes, even though Jesus Diaz, who penned the article, never claimed it was a direct quote in the first place. Weird? Yes. Cause for speculation? Yes.

The trouble started with a media briefing between Apple and Gizmodo Editorial Director Brian Lam about the recent introduction of the redesigned iMac, MacBook, and Magic Mouse. Jesus Diaz today posted an article on Giz in which he attempted to quell further product speculation about the holiday season by paraphrasing Schiller’s assertion that what we see now is what we get in terms of holiday offerings from Cupertino.

Following the article’s publication, Apple contacted Giz directly and gave them the text of the actual quote as “The holiday lineup is set.” The difference between the two statements appears to be minimal, unless you consider that announcing new products and offering them for sale are two different things entirely.

While Apple isn’t generally the type of company that tells everyone about something new long before they can get their hands on it, it does occasionally make an exception to take advantage of consumer anticipation and to give developers a head start. The iPhone is a case in point. It would make sense that an Apple tablet, which is rumored to have more in common with the iPhone than with a Mac, would get similar treatment.

Of course, Cupertino is and always has been a master of media manipulation, so the possibility also exists that this was just a well-placed PR stunt to convince people to keep the rumor mill going until the new year. Despite all of its secrecy, Apple is very much aware that much of its success depends on public perception, and on the effect of tech and mainstream media on that perception. Clarifying the quote costs Apple nothing, stirs up the pot that had threatened to rest quietly until the new year, and takes attention away from Windows 7.

Apple may yet reveal a new wonder device before the New Year, but I’m guessing the PR department actually just didn’t want there to be a definitive “final word” out there on product announcements losing them at least two months of valuable time in the spotlight.