Over the last few months, the tech world has been busy speculating about the possible new features that Apple's next generation iPhone, aka "iPhone 5," could finally bring. The only question that remained was - When will the smartphone be launched? Different reports surfaced with different time frames for the highly anticipated release, but without any specific date.
It was until earlier this week when iMore came up with a report in which it said that Apple planned to start taking pre-orders of iPhone 5, "at least in the US," from September 12, with the actual release tipped for the following Friday, September 21. Many reports followed thereafter, lending credence to that information.
So, now we have a solid date to mark and wait for the Cupertino tech giant for its grand unveiling of this year. Not simply a grand unveiling, if Jefferies analyst Peter Misek is to be believed, it will be the "biggest handset launch in history."
Misek wrote in an Aug. 17 research note that 170 million global smartphone subscribers will be coming out of contracts in the second half of 2012, and another 440 million will be contract-free in 2013. In addition, roughly 30 million iPhone subscribers will complete their contracts in the second half of this year while about 85 million subscribers will do the same next year.
"We therefore see significant and very fertile ground for the iPhone 5's success," Misek wrote.
In recent reports, high customer anticipation for iPhone 5 had been held responsible for a quarter-to-quarter drop in iPhone sales at Verizon Wireless and AT&T during the second quarter. The same was also partly blamed for Apple's earning that couldn't meet Wall Street expectations - something that had happened only twice in 39 quarters, eWeek reported.
Misek believed that the new iPhone would instigate a significant situation change. According to him, Apple would have approximately 15 million iPhone 5 handsets in inventory by mid-September. He reiterated the same Sept. 12 release date for the iPhone 5 and said that the launch could possibly see the announcement of the long-rumored iPad mini, a device that could "unlock demand in Asia," where businesses and consumers prefer a smaller form factor at a cheaper price.
Misek's note also gave some insight into the state of the so-called Apple "iTV". He said that the device could be launched in the fourth quarter, along with the iPad mini.
"While we think an iTV will be ready for a [fourth-quarter] launch, we do not know how many major product announcements Apple would want to cram into Sept./Oct./Nov. and see a [first-quarter 2013] launch as possible," he wrote.
According to PCMag, Apple might consider to wait until the first quarter of next year to launch the iTV.
iPhone 5 Obsession Leads Apple Stock To Record High
Apple's shares plunged after its third-quarter earnings "disappointed" the Wall Street projections. But now, less than a month later, the shares are up over 12 percent and are trading at a record high.
On Friday, Apple's shares closed at $648.11, up nearly 1.9 percent. Shares are up more than 22 percent since May when iPhone 5 rumors got momentum. Jefferies & Co. also raised its price target from $800 to $900, as Apple's valuation now tops $600 billion, CNET has reported.
The previous high for Apple, the world's most valuable company with a market cap of $607.54 billion, was $644, which was reached in April, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The latest surge comes at a time when the company is highly expected to unveil its sixth generation iPhone at a special event Sept. 12. On top of that, the upcoming iPhone model is also expected to get major design overhaul this time, sporting a larger 4-inch Retina display and a smaller doc connector, replacing the current 30-pin port.
Rumors also suggest that the handset would run on iOS 6, which would be completely scalable to a larger 640 x 1136 display. The device is also likely to feature a much-improved processor, 4G LTE technology, Near Field Communication (NFC), 1GB RAM, improved Siri, liquidmetal casing, an 8 megapixel (or even higher) rear camera, a 2 megapixel front-facing camera for video chatting and a much-improved battery life.
"In Apple's case, product launches have an inordinate impact," said Misek. "They have such a meticulous, product-focused extreme attention to detail that we haven't seen before in other companies."
Will The Surge Continue?
Apple's stock surged to all-time high amid the iPhone 5 rumors, but this is similar to what happened before the release of the new iPad. And according to a report by Tapscape, the same is going to happen with the iPhone 5 release as well.
The report said that Apple stock dropped after the launch of the new iPad because "it didn't live up to the hype." Although the device featured the retina display as expected, the hype made consumers and investors expect even more. Consequently, Apple's stock price came down until the company released big sales figures a little later that brought the price up again.
"That precedent is once again present, although at a much higher level," said the report.
"But the fact is that iPhone 5 will not live up to the hype. People are expecting things like fingerprint unlock and other rumored features that most likely won't end up in the retail product. Apple won't try anything drastic when minor improvements have been all that's necessary to generate millions of sales," the report added.
Apple itself said that its stock plunged last quarter despite impressive sales numbers because of enormous hype for new products.
"Our weekly iPhone sales continue to be impacted by rumors and speculation regarding new products," Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's chief financial officer, told analysts.
Considering the sky-high expectations from consumers around the world, will Apple be able to avoid the downside of the hype and shield its stock from yet another blow?