June 5, 2008 You know an event has captured public interest when the bookmakers start laying odds, so you’d better believe that next Monday’s Keynote by Steve Jobs is now an event of international import. The latest odds suggest he’ll be pulling the wraps off a "thin" (less than 0.46in or 11.6mm deep) iPhone with 3G and 32GB of memory and that Apple's stock (AAPL) will close higher than its opening value that day. You knew that? Then put your money where your mouth is, Mr Smartypants, because the odds on offer are much better than bank interest.
When it comes to calculating the probability of any event occurring, there are few more accurate predictors than the bookmaker – if you know where to look, you can look up the odds of just about anything, sum the market and calculate the probability of just about anything of public interest happening with astonishing accuracy, taking into account all public knowledge and most likely some well-informed private sources too.
It’s all there, from which nation will land on the moon next (China 1.7 – prices in decimal odds), the next President of the USA (Obama 1.57), who the best ever Booker prize winner was (Salman Rushdie 1.2), which city will host the 2016 Olympics (Chicago 1.67), whether Jerry Yang will lose his title as CEO of Yahoo before July 31 (no – 1.25), what the highest temperature will be next month, whether the FTSE index will be up or down for any 20 minute period compared to the last, who Celebrity X will date next, whether they will get arrested, or whether they’ll win the next Oscar. There’s also heavy betting constantly going on around every award and reality TV contest in every country in the world and there’s some real out-of-left field odds out there. The morning of September 11, 2001, you could bet via the internet f’rinstance, on where Osama Bin Laden would strike next. No doubt some embarrassed bookie scrambled like never before to remove those odds from public view, but they were there – we saw ‘em.
Whereas betting on the sport of kings was largely all you could once wager on with a reputable odds-maker, the internet has seen an explosion of on-line bookmakers who will lay odds on any sporting contest and indeed, any event that might capture public interest.
So what does all this have to do with technology? Well bookmaker Bodoglife has a natty little scheme where it lays odds on events of interest to narrowly focussed groups (such as us technophiles), then releases those odds to leading sites of that particular ilk (like us).
The company’s latest entrepreneurial odds-making surrounds what we’re likely to see next Monday when Steve Jobs takes the dias for the 2008 Worldwide Developers Conference keynote. Will Apple announce a 32GB iPhone at on June 9th? The odds show it as a near certainty at 1.33 (meaning you bet $100 and you get back $133 if it happens).
Yeah, we knew that too, but the odds on offer go way beyond that. Such as whether Apple will announce a "thin" (less than 0.46in or 11.6mm deep) iPhone (yes – 1.4), whether it will be 3G (yes – 1.1 – don’t laugh, that’s better than bank interest), whether it will be a 32GB, 3G, "thin" iPhone (yes - 1.77), and whether the announcement, whatever it might be, will see Apple's stock (AAPL) close higher or lower than its opening value that day (higher 1.57).
Of course there are plenty of ways to wager - you could, for example, buy Apple stocks if you figure, like everyone else does, that the world will fall in love with the second coming of the iPhone.
Just for the record, though we’re keen students of the odds at Gizmag, we do not encourage gambling, and have heard countless stories of unscrupulous behavior by internet bookmakers the world over. So don’t come crying … all right!