As Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference loomed, the iOSphere seemed resigned to No New Hardware, taking the wind out of much of the hot air about iPhone 6. But diehards do not go gentle in that good night.
This week, three different dates for the iPhone 6; new rumors that it will have a 4.8-inch screen; how a trade-in offer means the Next iPhone is coming soon; and the belief that both iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 will be released at the same time.
You read it here second.
"And while this [two-to-four-week production delay of the Next iPhone] does not preclude a September iPhone 5S launch date, we suspect volumes in September may consequently be challenged."
~ Glen Yeung, Citi Research (quoted in CNET post by Brooke Crothers), explaining how an alleged delay may not actually delay anything, but if the phone goes on sale later, it may mean that Apple sells fewer of them....or maybe not.
iPhone 6 is coming in early 2014, with a 4.8-inch screen
Citing "our field work in the hardware supply chain," Citi Research's Glen Yeung, in a CNET post by Brooke Crothers, delivered the Bad News and Good News about iPhone 6: later but bigger.
According to Crothers, Yeung writes that "We...expect a 4.8 [inch] screen iPhone 6 to be launched in 1Q14," or January to March 2014. The basis for this is those helpful but anonymous Asian sources in the supply chain. One would think that there are so many of them, with so much information, that more of it would actually leak out.
[IPHONEYS:The iPhone 6 and iPhone 5S edition]
There is more Bad News. IPhone 5S production "has been delayed by two to four weeks." No explanation of why it's been delayed.
Then there's this bit, by Yeung as quoted by Crothers: "And while this does not preclude a September iPhone 5S launch date, we suspect volumes in September may consequently be challenged." Abstruse language is a technique for making mere opinion sound like something grounded in fact. What Yeung apparently means is that "iPhone 5S might still be released in September but may not sell as many units because of the [alleged] delay."
Which has the same import as saying "As the sun sets earlier, the days grow shorter."
Frankly, investors not to mention Apple fans, could skip the middleman and come up with their own divinations. All you need is the official Harry Potter Divination Crystal Ball, "a detailed recreation of the ones used by the students in Professor Sybill Trelawney's Divination class;" now with 15% off, it's just $42.46; and "Crystal Ball Reading for Beginners," by Alexandra Chauran, for $14.95. "Haven't you always wanted to gaze into a crystal ball and see what the future holds? You can learn to use a crystal ball for divination, guidance, and meditation -- this friendly introductory guide tells you how!"
iPhone 6, 5S due soon, because Apple will offer a trade-in on iPhone 4, 4S
Bloomberg started this with a news story that Apple will start a trade-in program in June, offering money for used iPhone 4 and 4S models in good condition. The idea is "getting users to upgrade to the iPhone 5 and turn in older models, people with knowledge of the plans said," according to Bloomberg's Peter Burrows.
The trade-in offers aren't new. Apple has had a product recycling program for a while: "Turn that iPhone, iPad, or computer -- Mac or PC -- you're not using anymore into something brand new. Send it to us and we'll determine if it qualifies for reuse. If it does, that means your device has monetary value that we'll apply to an Apple Store Gift Card, which you can use for purchases at any Apple Retail Store or the Apple Online Store."
The new program will be different in a couple of ways: available only in Apple retail stores, via a partnership with Brightstar, and "letting consumers receive payments instantly and avoid the hassle of shipping their older gadgets," according to Bloomberg's sources.
But, of course, Burrows is simply wrong about why Apple is offering this new trade-in program. He suggests Apple wants to encourage customers to upgrade to iPhone 5, and to resell used iPhone 4 and 4S units to meet the strong demand for these lower-priced iPhones in emerging markets outside the U.S.
The iOSphere quickly re-interpreted the Bloomberg story.
"Apple is all set to take in old iPhone models and give consumers $US200 credit for their next device purchase, triggering rumours that the tech giant is on a high gear for the anticipated iPhone 6 and iPhone 5S release date," Erik Pineda breathlessly informed readers of his International Business Times post.
The trade-in program, like every single iPhone discount offered by Walmart and other retailers in the last two months, means the Next iPhone is drawing nigh. What other reason could there be?
iPhone 5S and also iPhone 6 will be released in September
Another crystal baller, aka stock analyst, fared less well with the iOSphere, though that may be the result of how his Note to Investors was paraphrased.
In a more-than-usually-confusing post at International Business Times, Kristin Dian Mariano, writes "An analyst claimed that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 5S will be released in September as the company started placing orders for the devices' components and production will commence in August."
The analyst is Chris Whitmore of Deutsche Bank Equity Research. According to Mariano, Whitmore "said in his investors note released yesterday that Apple has placed long term requests; expects production in August for late September launch."
But the only iPhone-related Whitmore excerpt that Mariano cites in her post refers to "iPhone" in the singular. Here it is: "Our checks indicate orders for the new iPhone are starting now for longer lead-time components. Specifically, we believe Apple is currently placing component orders for iPhone volume manufacturing to ramp in the August timeframe, suggesting they're on pace for a late September launch."
Phrases like "indicate" and "we believe" and "suggesting" are not confidence-builders.
ITechPost.com picked up on the IBT post, and what Whitmore is supposed to have said, in order to dismiss it.
"With Apple CEO Tim Cook letting on that no new products will be launched before fall, the September estimation by Whitmore for the iPhone refresh seems a plausible one," writes Anu Passary, letting on that apparently it's OK to take Tim Cook at his word. "However, would Apple launch both iPhone 5S as well as iPhone 6 at the same time? Of course not."
"An iPhone 5S/6 (possibly iPhone 5S, if Apple continues with its iPhone naming convention) and a low cost/entry level iPhone maybe, but definitely not iPhone 5S and iPhone 6," Passary declares.
Whether Whitmore actually said that may be a bit murky to the iOSphere, but he did say almost the same thing two years ago. Philip Elmer-DeWitt, writing the Apple 2.0 blog at Fortune, posted a summary on June 6, 2007 of a Whitmore Note to Investors. "In a note issued early Monday, Deutsche Bank's Chris Whitmore is telling clients to expect both -- an iPhone 5 and an iPhone 4S," wrote Elmer-DeWitt.
Whitmore anticipated that Apple would attack the mid-range smartphone market, especially overseas, with a modestly priced "iPhone 4S" model, while offering at the same time the follow-on premium smartphone, "iPhone 5."
We know how that turned out: Apple announced the Next iPhone, just one of them, the iPhone 4S.
But the speculation will not die.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
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