How to find out about Apple product releases in advance.

Some friends have been clamoring lately about Apple ‘rumors’ regarding product lines and release dates for the MacWorld expo. Everyone is trying to get the inside scoop – trying to get Apple employees and Market Research Firm analysts to spill the beans.

They’re wasting their time.

History has proven that Apple manages product knowledge amongst its employees incredibly well — most people there can’t leak info simply because its provided on a ‘need to know’ basis until they actually need to know. That means that most employees don’t know about a product until its in the stores. The ‘Market Research Firm Analysts’ just make crazy guesses based on PR releases from suppliers. They’re often wrong.

There are a class of people who do know what’s going on though – and if you want to find out about Apple, Microsoft, Intel, or other tech-company products, you should be turning to them. They’re called Portfolio Managers for Hedge Funds and Private Equity firms.

Every quarter, like clockwork, the top brass of Tech companies fly to the NYC area and make a round of meetings to talk, sometimes even demo, forthcoming super-secret products to the people who manage institutional investing.

This isn’t shown to the market/research analysts at the firms; it’s not shown to the ‘industry experts’ who rate the stocks; its shown to the people who manage portfolio sections and do trades in bulk.

I’ve always found this practice odd since I heard about it a few years ago. Despite my existing opinions of the stock market, I fail to see how behavior like this differs from the universally panned ‘insider trading’. Nevertheless, this is the Status Quo for Wall Street — and everyone who is a couple of degrees away from people in institutional investing knows about it.

So if you want to predict or guess about tech company announcements — forget looking at PR releases by people in supply chain, and start looking at the movement and grouping of stocks by institutional investors. Maybe even ask around, and see if someone there will spill the beans — whatever does get released next week, they’ve seen it already, three months ago.