Well, Office for iPad is real, at least according to the Daily, which claims to have had hands-on time with the product. According to their sources, it should be submitted to the App Store soon. In other words, the product is coming, and is, well, real.

Flash back less than a week, to the following headline: “Office for iPad? Not Likely.” Well, oops. Right, did AllThingsD get duped? Not exactly, but an analyst did pull another sneaky trick which I want to elucidate for you, dear reader. Here’s the way it works:

  • Something happens. In this case, the Daily uncovers that Microsoft is building an Office suite for the iPad.
  • After an appropriate interval, an enterprising analyst, likely looking to boost their profile and that of their employer, tosses iced water onto the rumor. This time around, the analyst is question is Nomura Research’s Rick Sherlund.
  • A media wave follows, all quoting the analyst and his firm, allowing publications to shout: “Oh look! That thing, it might not happen!” Writers don’t have to research a thing, but simply quote an analyst (more on this later).
  • This works until the rumor is borne out, provided that it does. Right now Rick Sherlund and Nomura Research look like utter fools for not only being wrong, but for dragging us through their hijinks.

Now, the story never actually changed; Microsoft is apparently (assuming that the Daily is not a wildly disingenuous publication) building a version of Office for the iPad. Also, Mr. Sherlund never had inside information, as the Daily did, he simply raised some conjecture about Microsoft’s internal politics, and decided that Steven Sinofsky would prevail (you don’t care enough for a full explanation, trust me).

But the darn analyst did change the conversation, because his idea (no Office for iPad!) had two key ingredients: Microsoft sucks; iPads are cool. This annoys me. Consider this post holding Sherlund’s nose to his misplaced fecal matter. Only this time around he didn’t do it on the floor like your ne’er-do-well dog, he left it all over the media.

Here’s the gist: nearly every analyst out there is just that – a person thinking and saying things. A few are fantastic, but they are the rare exception, the anti-rule, if you will. Mostly, analysts simply want to get their name out there, and do so by tossing trial balloons into the air.

It wastes our time.