iPhone 5 rumours for the week ending May 18

Perhaps the next iPhone won't be called iPhone 5 but the Zombie iPhone, in honour of the new spate of rumours that the late Steve Jobs is still with us in a sense, as the chief designer of the upcoming handset.

Perhaps the next iPhone won't be called iPhone 5 but the Zombie iPhone, in honor of the new spate of rumors that the late Steve Jobs is still with us in a sense, as the chief designer of the upcoming handset.

Also this week: The 4-inch iPhone 5 screen is 'confirmed' because mainstream media reported on rumours instead of bloggers, Apple is reducing new orders for iPhone 4S so it can, um, sell more of a phone it hasn't announced yet, and all that 'zazz'.

You read it here second.

iPhone 5 will be the "Steve Jobs Phone"

The iOSphere has happily concluded that iPhone 5 will be the Steve Jobs phone, because he purportedly "worked closely on the redesigned phone" before his death last October.

The conclusion is based on a Bloomberg story which cites exactly one source, someone "with knowledge of the plans," as the basis for this assertion.

Bloomberg mentions a total of three such sources in the story, but each one for separate assertions. And the assertions don't amount to much, as one can tell from reading the rest of the story, which rehashes some rumours about screen sizes, some generalities about the competitive smartphone market, and so on.

For having talked with three people with knowledge of Apple's plans, there's precious little that's new or detailed information in the story. Bloomberg claims, again from one source, that iPhone 5 will be redesigned but offers not a single detail regarding how.

Another source repeats the previously circulated rumours that Apple has placed orders for displays "that are bigger than the 3.5-inch size now on the smartphone", but again without any detail as to what the larger size would actually be.

"Apple has been working on the new device since before the current iPhone 4S model was introduced last October, said one person with knowledge of the project. Jobs, who had gone on medical leave from Apple starting last January, played a key role in developing the phone, this person said."

iPhone 5 "confirmed" as having 4-inch screen

Two stories this week, by The Wall Street Journal and Reuters, claim that the Next iPhone will have a 4-inch screen.

Immediately, the iOSphere rejoiced, saying these mainstream media stories "confirm" the larger screen.

Yet even a superficial read of both stories shows they rest on a thin foundation. Despite their length, both actually add very little detail about the purported big-screen iPhone. And both use almost identical language to describe their sources: "people familiar with the matter" and "people familiar with the situation."

The next iPhone is "likely to have a larger display than its current models have, with the company ordering bigger screens from its Asian suppliers, people familiar with the matter said," according to the Journal. "The new screens measure at least 4 inches diagonally, the people said. ... Production is set to begin next month, the people said."

If the production schedule is correct, that would suggest the phones will be released, if not announced, later in 2012, rather than earlier as some had predicted, or hoped.

According to Reuters, "Apple Inc plans to use a larger screen on the next-generation iPhone and has begun to place orders for the new displays from suppliers in South Korea and Japan, people familiar with the situation said on Wednesday."

And, apart from both stories asserting, based on the same sources, that Apple will rely on a trio of manufacturers for the new screens -- Korea's LG Display, Sharp and Japan Display, a recent merger of the display production units of three companies -- neither story adds anything more.

But that was enough for folks like Richi Jennings, who writes US Computerworld's IT Blogwatch. He concludes, "The iPhone 5 release date is basically now known. And the rumours of a larger, 4-inch screen are all-but confirmed."

But as with all such 'reports', the weight to be attached to the conclusions hinges on the identity, reliability and motives of the sources. And neither Reuters nor the Journal shed any light on these. Their sources may be from display manufacturers or they could be rumour sites that claim to have sources in display manufacturers.

Apple paves the way for iPhone 5 by reducing orders for existing phones Apple has "significantly reduced" its iPhone orders to its manufacturers, as it "begins prepping" for iPhone 5.

That's how [Neil Hughes at AppleInsider sees it, based on an investors note from Sterne Agee stock analyst Shaw Wu.

In the note, Wu told his readers that "he has found in his checks with suppliers that Apple has reduced iPhone orders by between 20 and 25 percent from the 35.1 million units the company shipped in the March quarter," according to Hughes.

If it's ordering fewer phones, it will be shipping fewer phones. "If those numbers hold for the current June quarter, that would result in shipments of between 26 million and 28 million iPhones. That result would be below Wall Street consensus of between 30 million and 31 million."

But, there are the phones already in the channel inventory. Wu estimates that there 8.6 million iPhones in the channel inventory, with 2.6 million added in the most recent quarter. "That channel inventory allowed the company to reach a supply-demand balance of between 4 and 6 weeks," according to the AppleInsider story.

Based on past history, Apple can expect a slowdown in iPhone sales, the closer we come to the expected announcement of the next iPhone. At the same time, it presumably wants to have enough phones to meet all the demand during the run-up to that announcement, while making sure there's manufacturing capacity to meet expected demand for the next iPhone.

AppleInsider quotes Wu: "It appears AAPL is opting to be conservative with its suppliers to factor in a potential 2-quarter pause ahead of the refresh and also to manage inventory."

In 2011, as AppleInsider notes, Apple reported record sales of 20.34 million iPhones during the June quarter, and 17.07 million in the September quarter, "as Apple drew down inventories ahead of the iPhone 4S launch." But that seems to assume that Apple, in effect, didn't have enough iPhones to meet demand. Apple CEO Tim Cook said that demand for iPhone 4 fell off, especially in the second half of the September quarter, but not as much as Apple executives had feared.

Wu "believes investor expectations should be drawn in for the June quarter as well as the following September quarter," according to AppleInsider.

Rollup isn't a corporate inventory management specialist, and Apple's Tim Cook definitely is, but low-balling Apple sales for two quarters - half of the year - doesn't seem like a great inventory management strategy.

iPhone 5's iOS 6 firmware to be revealed in June

"iPhone 5 groundwork being set at WWDC," is Chris Burns' thrilling headline at SlashGear.

The phone itself won't show up at Apple Worldwide Developer Conference in June. But "from what we've gathered over the last few weeks in leaks and tips popping up until and including today, we'll see much of the groundwork and preparations being made for the release of that titanic smartphone release set for a late summer release", Burns gushes. That release will not only feature "an iCloud upgrade, improved Apple-run Maps, and hardware updates galore," but something More: It "will be strewn with next-level zazz."

'Zazz' is an iOSphere technical term for 'general, mindblowing, cool awesomeness'.

"What WWDC will hold is the cradle which will eventually surround the iPhone 5," Burns explains poetically. And the hot air wafting through the iOSphere is the wind that gently rocks it.

With all those tips and leaks at hand, Burns doesn't even bother to cite sources. Why slow down the flow of zazz?

"[W]e'll see the iPhone 5 bringing on a whole new wave of connected services," Burn reveals. "This includes the Apple-made Maps environment that will not only allow you to finally work with turn-by-turn directions, it'll give you such realistic mapping that your eyes will bug out of your head."

If bug-eyed mapping doesn't get your juices flowing, you must already be dead. The bug-eye work of photorealistic 3D maps is by C3, a company acquired by Apple in October 2011. You can get a sense of the impact of its software, running on an iPad in this video.

But that's not all! More zazz.

"Next have a peek at the next issue in the iCloud story," Burns teases. "This next-level iCloud upgrade will be released in a iCloud Beta fashion, this tip sending fairly clear signals that it'll be showing up at WWDC for developers." You almost don't feel annoyed that Burns doesn't actually give you a peek at even a single new feature in the next iCloud.

Not one to be shy about drawing conclusions, Burns draws conclusions. "This all comes in addition to the idea that iOS 6 upgrade to both iPhone and iPad may be coming at the event as well, though such a large upgrade (whatever it might hold) does seem more likely to be released at the same time as the iPhone 5 itself - it just sounds better."

Nothing quite sums up iOSphere rumours as well as that: "It just sounds better."

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