Verizon (NYSE: VZ) subscribers got their iPhone 4 in February. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) kept tablet-hungry fans satisfied with the iPad 2 in March. So the iPhone 5 should be right around the corner from Steve Jobs & Co., right?
For anyone that’s followed Apple’s releases over the past half decade, they know iPhone season is upon us. The original iPhone 4 was announced and released in June 2010. The iPhone 3GS was in June 2009. And since the CDMA iPhone on Verizon’s network isn’t much different than the one used by AT&T (NYSE: T) subscribers, the time is ripe for an iPhone 5 pre-order.
No such luck, say analysts.
Avian Securities issued a note to investors on Monday advising that Apple will not be releasing a fifth-generation iPhone during the third quarter of 2011. The firm’s discussions with Apple’s component suppliers indicate that iPhone 5 production will kick off in September of 2011. That means we won’t see a new smartphone from Apple for months, and that a September launch is the most optimistic scenario with October or even November if there are delays.
Apple’s release cycle is chaotic in 2011, but that’s mostly because of a propensity of offerings. The Verizon iPhone and iPad 2 releases in the first quarter are followed by a planned roll out of the new OS X 10.7 Lion operating system for Mac computers in June — so an autumn debut for the new iPhone 5 makes sense. It will give those products time to exhaust initial hype while also giving the company a marquee device for the holidays.
While consumers may be disappointed by the wait, there may be a reason to be pleased about the late iPhone 5 debut. September is when Apple has traditionally unveiled new models of the iPod media player, as the company did in 2010 when it announced new models of iPod Touch and a touch screen iPod Nano. In fact, it’s the latter of the two that may hint at what’s in store for the iPhone 5 reveal in fall 2011.
The music-focused media event will likely still take place—with an announcement of Apple’s long in gestation streaming music service all but guaranteed—but rather than use the event to push new media specific portables, Apple will use the event to reveal both the iPhone 5 and a smaller, more affordable iPhone Nano. The Wall Street Journal reported in February that Apple would diversify the iPhone line with a device more diminutive in both price and features to target younger consumers. The full-featured iPhone 5, meanwhile, will likely be similar to the iPhone 4 but the device’s screen will now cover its whole 4-inch face. It is also suspected to support both Verizon and AT&T’s 4G LTE networks.