Here are the top iPhone 5 rumors for the week ending Friday, May 6: The Date, the value of carrier employees as sources of information, two models, shallow consumers buy the white iPhone 4 and delay iPhone 5, wireless updates. You heard it all here second.
The Date: AT&T will get iPhone 5 first, in the fall; Verizon will get it "a few months later" in Q1 2012. We know this how? Because Robert Holland, founder of Social Media SEO, was talking to a Verizon retail store salesperson who told Holland that he, the salesperson, had heard [drum roll please] a rumor. "He said that Apple is always VERY tight lipped about any and all of their products, but that from his information so far, this is the schedule Verizon is expecting," Holland wrote.
Carrier employees were a popular source of date rumors this week. Brighthand learned that an AT&T customer service rep had told an AT&T subscriber that the "next-generation iPhone won't be out in early summer."
APPLE IPHONEYS: The iPhone 5 edition
In all seriousness, the story notes, "This fits in with a number of earlier reports that indicate Apple has delayed the release [of] its next smartphone."
Here's what happened: "The subscriber asked the AT&T rep about when he would qualify for a subsidized upgrade to Apple's next smartphone, and was told: 'Apple has informed us that they do not plan to release the iPhone in the June to July timeframe, though there will be a newer version in the future. Unfortunately, we have not been given a release time for the new phone. We will release this information on our website when it is available to us.'"
Apple is trying to "bury" the iPhone 5, and distract the buying public with the white iPhone, according to Beatweek Magazine: "iPhone 5 burial complete as white iPhone 4 now ships in 24 hours."
"Speak not of the iPhone 5, as Apple has not only killed any chance of a prompt summer release, it's attempting to all but bury the product for now by instead distracting the public with a shiny new white iPhone 4," according to Beatweek. "... the uber-late arrival of the white iPhone 4 has breathed new life into the iPhone 4 lineup in the most shallow of ways -- but also in a surprisingly effective manner.
"[N]early every white iPhone 4 sale now will translate to one less iPhone 5 sale when the next generation first arrives," Beatweek observes. "Few [buyers] will eat the cost of not only buying two new iPhones within the span of less than half a year, but also plunking down $250 above sticker price to get the latter of the two, as buying a white iPhone 4 from either Verizon or AT&T will plunge you into unsubsidized territory when the iPhone 5 arrives. But for its part, Apple apparently doesn't care."
Two iPhone 5 models: "There is reason to believe," according to the iPhoneDownloadBlog, that Apple is building not one but two iPhone 5 models: a regular one, and a better-than-regular one.
"According to an employee of an Apple part supplier, there is reason to believe that the iPhone 5 will actually be two devices: a 'standard' and 'pro' model," the blog claims. "Due to the extensive amount of NDAs our source had to sign to work with Apple, he could not give us very many details."
In any case, "our source," as iPDB refers to him, tells the blog that the reason he thinks this is because Apple is ordering two versions of the same components. "While the rest of the ordered components are just the standard versions, Apple is also ordering better quality components of the same function. Our source says that both types of components wouldn't go in one device together, which makes him believe Apple is up to something with a 'pro' version."
MORE SCUTTLEBUTT: iPhone 6 anyone?
Perhaps the A5 chip made with higher-grade silicon? Or a Gorilla Glass leaded-crystal display screen? Premium solder?
"We believe our source is reliable regarding this information," the blog says, reassuringly. It's all about having faith.
But as the UK-based Metro newspaper observed, the iPhone is already seen as a high-end premium device. There's an answer to that objection: Apple could be "introducing a new super-duper extra-special iPhone Supreme as the high-end model for the hardcore Apple devotees, and pitching the mid-range device as being as good as regular iPhones always have been."
That's a sterling effort to square the circle, but it still runs into that stubbornly lingering perception that the iPhone already is the super-duper extra-special supreme phone.
Over-the-air-updates: Forget about having to plug your iPhone 5 into your iTunes-equipped Mac or Windows PC to get iOS updates and stuff, according to 9to5Mac. At least, if your iPhone 5 runs on Verizon's network.
Instead, as with Google Android, and HP/Palm webOS, the upcoming iOS 5 will give the user an alert that an update is available, according to 9to5Mac. This capability is already implemented in the iOS-based Apple TV.
"Multiple sources (one as far back as March) say the new feature will debut in iOS 5, meaning iOS 5 will not come over-the-air but following point updates to it will. Just like tethering in iOS 3, Apple has the technology but cannot just unleash it everywhere."
Wireless updates have two implications, according to this story. First, "Apple would have to make these [OS updates] smaller to get the carriers to agree to push these things as they are. We believe that Apple will make the updates much smaller by using incremental patches rather than full OS downloads." Second, because iTunes currently backs up the iOS device in case of an update failure, "We think there will be a Cloud-based backup system."
BlogsDNA.com reported on the 9to5Mac story and helpfully created a mockup, showing how the iOS 5 wireless update would appear onscreen to the end user.
eWeek is unconvinced: Those Android phones show that "over-the-air updates take time to bring to all users. In general, the experience just isn't as simple or efficient as Apple's method. Over-the-air is great in principle, but it doesn't work all that well in practice. And Apple knows that." Check out eWeek's "Apple iPhone 5 Design: 10 Features That Absolutely Won't Make the Cut." The list includes most of the features that have been rumored for months.
Heard or read a good, stupid, intriguing, jaw-dropping or amusing iPhone 5 or iPad 3 rumor? Or want to make up one of your own (remember, you only need one salesperson who works for somebody as your source)? Tell us, so we can tell everyone else in the Network World's Weekly iX Rumor Update: email@example.com
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
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