Good perspective from CNET‘s Brooke Crothers on the much-maligned Digitimes:

DigiTimes’ problem is that it doesn’t filter the rumors as well as, let’s say, a DisplaySearch analyst would. But maybe that’s not the intention anyway. Maybe DigiTimes feels it needs to pass along gossip as it hears it. Maybe that’s what its Asia-based supply chain readership wants.

Digitimes has at least a couple of problems:

1. The rumors it reports on are pretty far up the supply chain, and as Crothers notes, sometimes things simply don’t pan out. There’s a difference between a wrong rumor and a rumor that was correct at the time but ultimately turned out wrong because plans changed. Unfortunately, it’s frequently hard to tell the difference when you’re dealing with the supply chain.

2. Digitimes does a poor job placing rumors in context. They’re not necessarily Apple experts, and sometimes when they hear a morsel from the supply chain and try to draw conclusions from it, they end up putting out a rumor that is simply silly. But it doesn’t mean the morsel is wrong.

People love to poke fun at Digitimes with oh-so-witty “I stopped reading as soon as I saw Digitimes” comments and the like, but in my view it’s unwise to dismiss the site’s claims out of hand.

digitimes_logoThen there was Gizmodo, which took great pains to discuss how they never report on Digitimes rumors, in the process covering the latest rumor about a Retina display for the second-generation iPad mini. Gizmodo‘s Brian Barrett’s position is that the claim is “so inevitable, it has no merit as a rumor”.

Inevitable that the iPad mini will someday gain a Retina display, yes. But inevitable that the NEXT iPad mini will see a Retina display, not exactly.

There has actually been a fair amount of discussion and speculation about just when the iPad mini will gain a Retina display, with some arguing that Apple will be able to squeeze such a display into the second-generation model while others look to the full-size iPad as a sign that Retina may be more likely to come to the iPad mini with the third-generation models.

There has actually been little-to-nothing in the way of specific claims either way until now, and that’s why Digitimes‘ claim that a Retina display is likely to come in the second-generation iPad mini is interesting and newsworthy. Now, the rumor may be incorrect, or it may be correct today but ultimately turn out to be incorrect (you can bet Apple tried putting one in the first-generation model and they’re no doubt trying again), but at least now we have a specific claim on record saying it’s coming sooner rather than later.

It’s all a matter of when the technology allows Apple to package the Retina display and additional horsepower needed to drive it into a package the company feels is in line with the physical design goals for the product. We saw with the full-size iPad that even after two generations of non-Retina display, Apple had to increase the device’s thickness in order to add a Retina display, something the company decided was an acceptable tradeoff at that point. But with the thin and light design of the iPad mini being one of its major selling points, Apple is likely to be even less willing to make a sacrifice in that area on the smaller tablet.