There's was an almost palpable shudder through the iOSsphere when a Wall Street Journal tech blog reported this week that iPhone 5 will be announced Oct. 4. If they can find someplace to announce on the West Coast, which may be doubtful according to PC Magazine.
This week rumors: dates, display delays, inventory sheets and internal errors, fireproofing the iPhone, Greek Geeks on the iPhone 4S, another reason to leave Europe ASAP, and what Al Gore and Internet journalists have in common.
You read it here second.
"Even we were skeptical." -- Mike Perlman, TechnoBuffalo, of an iPhone 5 rumor that the website nevertheless immediately repeated
iP-Day: Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: The world's geekiest cakes
That probably excludes the big-box consumer electronics sales clerks not to mention the Apple supply chain employees, who are the typical go-to sources even if they're not-quite-so-close to the situation.
The tech blog reports that "sources said that the Oct. 4 date has been selected by the company to showcase the iPhone 5. Sources added that the plan is now to make the new device available for purchase within a few weeks after the announcement."
This is a Big Deal for more reasons than just the iPhone 5, as unbelievable as that might sound. And why? Because Steve Jobs, no longer Apple's CEO, almost certainly won't be making the introduction, according to AllThingsD. "It will be newly installed CEO Tim Cook's first big product introduction, and the place where the public will get a first lengthy impression of him that may well set the tone for Cook's new role."
First impressions are so important. Like, will he be wearing a black mock turtleneck, trainers and blue jeans, or make his own fashion statement?
Display defect may defeat delivery dates.
DigiTimes, which seems to hold the iOSsphere record for knowing more people with friends of relatives working somewhere in the sprawling Far East manufacturing plants that form Apple's supply chain, says a bothersome defect popping up in some iPhone 5 displays "may influence" shipping dates for the phone.
The iOSsphere correctly realized that "may influence" means "delay." DigiTimes cites "iPhone supply chain makers" as sources for the rumor. The defect, called "delayed bubble," could affect Apple's "ability to meet initial shipment targets for the launch ..." But Wintek, which is one of the display builders, "simply indicated that all of its products are being delivered on schedule."
There's no explanation in the rumor of what "delayed bubble" is or what causes it. DigiTimes simply indicates it's "difficult to avoid during panel production, particularly when the defect is not detected during the process of laminating touch panels, and only later found during assembly."
The story repeated an early estimation rumor that Apple plans to ship 25 million-26 million units of iPhone 5 in the fourth quarter.
The Next Web knows what to do with a good rumor: confirm it by alchemical translation. It translates "may affect the ability to meet initial shipment targets for the launch" into "Apple's initial iPhone 5 shipments are expected to be affected by a touch panel issue."
And then it undermines the rumor: "With over a year between iPhone announcements, providing Apple with huge lead time to ensure its initial shipments ready before launch, rumours of a delay at this late stage could be a case of pure misinformation."
Rumor as misinformation. Who'd have thought it?
No iPhone 5 at all. Get ready for the iPhone 4G! Oh ... sorry: internal error.
Then there's the mistake as rumor as misinformation.
TechnoBuffalo got an insistent tip from a source identified as a Best Buy employee who showed them hard evidence, in the form of a Best Buy inventory sheet, that the upcoming phone is (drum roll, please) iPhone 4G.
With disarming candor, TB admits, "Even we were skeptical."
But not skeptical enough to spike the rumor, because if true, this leak is "Apple gold," as TB's headline breathlessly proclaims.
A new iPhone running on real 4G networks! With incredible speeds! Think of the games we can play, the HD movies we can view, the incredible ads we can see delivered by Apple's iAd Network!
But alas, the golden delicious turned to ashes in our mouths.
After one update, in which the the tipster insisted "this is a new listing," a second update followed, reporting that a UPC search, using the SKU and model numbers revealed in the inventory sheet, "leads to a result indicating this is a case of iPhone 4 covers, which lends strong credibility to this being a Best Buy internal error and not a product reveal."
Nonetheless, even we are skeptical of that.
iPhone 5 plus "iPhone 4-plus"... if you live in mainland China.
A J.P. Morgan analyst studied the entrails, technically known as "proprietary research," and concluded that Apple will indeed release two Next iPhone models this fall, according to a post at AppleInsider (among other news sites).
One will have a "'significant' but not 'radically different' change in physical design," along with Apple's A5 processor, CDMA and GSM radios, and a thinner and lighter case: the new "fifth-generation" iPhone, according to analyst Mark Moskowitz.
The other Next iPhone, AppleInsider says, will be an "an upgraded 'iPhone 4-plus' that would target midrange smartphone buyers, particularly in emerging markets like China." It will have just "some minor improvements."
iPhone 4-plus or perhaps iPhone 4+ or maybe iPhonefor+ could "target one or more carriers in China." Moskowitz sees China as a big-bang opportunity for Apple, well worth designing a Plus for that market.
But that might depend on whether the ChiCom government adopts a "one-iPhone-per-family" policy. As Vice President Joe Biden recently noted regarding another one-something-per-family policy, "Your policy has been one which I fully understand -- I'm not second-guessing -- of one iPhone per family." But of course, that would leave Chinese families "in a position where one iPhone user will be taking care of four retired people." As the vice president noted succinctly: "Not sustainable. So hopefully we can act in a way on a problem that's much less severe than yours, and maybe we can learn together from how we can do that."
Forget iPhone 5 again. It's just iPhone 4S. Really.
The Brit geek site Pocket-lint was "tipped" to an "exclusive" post on the Greek geek site DigitalLife, which has the Truth, the Final Word, information that is 100% reliable, in Greek.
Thanks to the marvel of Google Translate, here's the opening from DL: "But ladies and gentlemen. We know how is the iPhone 5. The source gave us the information is 100% reliable and we put our hand to fire it. Even though it allows us to disclose the name of ..."
We love the smell of burning hands in the morning.
DL gets down to brass tacks without ado. "Let's start with the basics: the iPhone 5 will not be the iPhone 5. But an improved version 4 and will be called iPhone 4S."
One admires the symmetry: the iPhone 5 will not be the iPhone 5. In other words, the iPhone 5 will be the iPhone 5 only it will not be.
DL says the Next WhateverPhone will have, as has been previously rumored, an 8 megapixel camera that can shoot HD video, and the A5 dual-core processor; and adds what we think is a new rumor wrinkle: a "second antenna at the top of the device that improves the signal."
"All other technical device will be exactly the same as the iPhone 4. Even the dimensions of the screen." Except for the battery size, "which is likely to grow due to the use of new technology."
And with regard to The Date: Apple will be announcing the 4S in early October and releasing it on Oct. 21 "in the largest economies of the world like America, Germany and England and so on." Greece is notably absent, and the way things are going may not even have an economy by the time the "4S" comes to market.
Pocket-lint reveals it was "tipped" by none other than DigitalLife itself, since Greek-language Geek sites aren't a prime destination for non-Greek speakers. And, as TechnoBuffalo might say, even they were skeptical.
"So we asked the site to give us a bit more detail," P-L reveals. And based on that bit more, P-L concludes "its sources seem to be genuine." It's not clear what that means, though: TechnoBuffalo had a "genuine" Best Buy employee, for example. And, reluctantly, Pocket-lint can't go into detail about the details. "Obviously we're not going to sell them down the river by revealing where it claims to get its info from, and we can only take its word that it's all above board at this point."
Would we lie to you?
Samsung will block iPhone 5 sales. But not in the U.S.
Korean-based Samsung is preparing a "legal move" to block iPhone 5 sales in Europe, or Korea, or both. That's the gist of a report by Financial Times, which cites "people close to the company" as its sources. A cached version of the story is here.
According to FT: "'The market's speculation that Samsung is preparing a legal action to block sales of the iPhone 5 is largely true,' said a person close to the company." A rumor is rumored to be true.
"Samsung declined to comment on this latest issue but said it would react more aggressively to Apple's claim that its smartphones and tablets copied the US company's design," according to FT.
You can't really blame 'em, says IntoMobile. "While that seems a little pre-emptive, you can't blame them for being on the offensive after Apple blocked the Tab in Australia and Germany," the tech site posted.
So if you're thinking about moving out of Europe as the Euro nears collapse, this is one more reason to jump ship.
iPhone 5 will be fireproof.
The iPhone 5 will have a "fireproof exterior made of flame retardant material that has been developed especially for Apple," according to a website called The Christian Post.
The Post clearly needs sensitivity training. We'd suggest "flame impedance material."
But as rumors go, this is, like, hot.
The Post's source seems to be a June post by PatentlyApple, which tracks Apple patent filings and awards, though it doesn't provide a link and searches on "flame retardant," "fireproof," "fire proof" and even "flame impedance" didn't turn up any hits at PA.
But there have been persistent reports of iPhone spontaneous combustions, at a frat party and on a Dutch blogger's passenger-side automobile seat, to name just two examples. Then, there was the notorious July 2010 "iPhone 4 bursts into flames" post at Boy Genius Report, not long after Apple introduced iPhone 4. We did a bit of flaming of BGR ourselves on that.
Still, it's not like the iPhone is made out of cardboard to begin with. And a fireproof mobile device probably doesn't rank high in Apple's understanding of "user experience."
"Where's iPhone 5?" becomes "Where's iPhone 5 being announced?"
You probably weren't even puzzling over this, silly you. But PC Magazine detected a gaping hole in iPhone 5 rumoring: Just where is Apple going to stage the iPhone 5 announcement? Especially since Oracle has booked Apple's two traditional venues?!
Given the feverish condition of the iOSsphere, "our attention turns to guessing where Apple is going to unveil its next-generation smartphone," Damon Poeter writes.
When it's put like that, it seems so obvious.
Poeter isn't just speculating. There's hard reporting behind this slideshow. He discovered that San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, often used by Apple for announcements, is unavailable. "We were told ... that Oracle has booked the auditorium on Oct. 4 as part of its Oracle OpenWorld conference next month," Poeter explains. Ditto for the nearby Moscone Center.
"Given the booking complications, we've put together a list of other Bay Area venues that Apple might use to give the world its first official glimpse of the long-awaited iPhone 5," Poeter writes reassuringly.
The sites include Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, which Poeter rather oddly rates a "high" probability despite being already booked by Oracle. The storied rock-and-roll palace Fillmore Auditoriom ranks "low" because, Poeter says, the "layout of the space feels off." The Mint's chances are "slim": "Not exactly Apple's style," he sniffs.
Alas, he considers Alcatraz Island a "narrow" possibility, though it's unclear whether that means it's more or less likely than The Mint. But you can cross Black Rock Desert, Nev., site of the annual Burning Man festival, off your list for sure, Poeter says. Which is, clearly, a missed opportunity.
You can believe Al Gore.
The former vice president of the United States, and Apple board member, speaking at the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit in South Africa, was quoted as follows: "Not to mention the new iPhones coming out next month. That was a plug."
Not much of one, you might think. But you're not thinking, or reading, like a dyed-in-the-wool iOSspherer.
"If you read the quote carefully, you'll see that Gore said iPhones, as in plural -- multiple phones," writes Josh Wolford at WebProNews, who's a careful reader indeed. "Of course, he could have been speaking generally, as in all of the iPhone 5s that will be coming out. Or, the added plural could be a hint regarding two different iPhones hitting the shelves in October."
Who knew that Al Gore, of all people, could be such a tease?
Matthew Panzarino intones at The Next Web that "this is the first time that anyone with ties to the Apple organization, even if it is just a Board Member, has made any affirmative statements about the release of its next-gen iPhone." Apparently if Mr. Gore can be an Apple board member, anybody can.
"There is always the possibility that Gore misspoke, of course, or was just making statements based on the rumors that are already out there," Panzarino concedes, "but it seems like a pretty big mistake to make at a public conference." Exactly: People are far more likely to big mistakes at private conferences.
But to show he's maintaining journalistic objectivity and skepticism, Panzarino goes on: "So, now that Gore says that we're getting a new iPhone next month, do you believe it more? He is a politician after all and we all know how much they like to say things, regardless of how true they are."
Unlike, you know, the Internet professionals writing about iPhone 5 rumors.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for "Network World."
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