Apple (AAPL) watchers are constantly twirling their worry beads for proof that Steve Jobs' spirit, not just his body, has died at Apple Inc.
Fanboys dismissed concerns about the logo that followed CEO Tim Cook's first product launch. But it may be harder to dismiss this - designer Philippe Starck openly defying the culture of secrecy to hint at a "revolutionary" product due for release this fall.
Obviously Starck is mainly selling Starck here. By hinting at what he's doing for Apple, by bragging about his relationship with the late Mr. Jobs, he hopes to bring in other clients and get existing clients to treat his work with more respect.
But there is a nasty truth underneath all this. If you credit Jobs' with nearly all of Apple's success over the last decade - and some do - it's obvious this is not something he would have tolerated. If Starck had opened his "pate-hole" about Apple in 2009, for instance, he would have been out the door faster than you can say Bobby Petrino.
On the other hand it could be that CEO Cook is using Starck to tease possible future products in the way that Jobs himself once did. And there are a bunch of possibilities including a possible Apple TV, a wireless docking station, or an iPhone 5 for the blogosphere to ponder.
The company's PR office decision to dismiss Starck's claims is not going to hold down the speculation. (Well, that's just what they'd say if he really were working on something...) It's also possible that he's just working on a yacht for Jobs' widow, one Jobs had ordered during his lifetime.
If this is just a head-fake, however, it's not helping. Apple's recent slide has continued on April 16, with the stock now available at less than $600, following a peak of $640. The current price of about $590 gives the shares of PE of 16.4, and earnings for the second fiscal quarter are not due until a week from now.
Speculating on that number may prove more fruitful than speculation about Starck.
Disclosure: I am long AAPL.