While industry observers have chimed in over the past weeks about what will be inside Apple's next iPhone 5, one analyst on Friday gave insight into when the phone will actually hit shelves.
Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster told clients Apple will introduce its next iPhone in September, rather than the usual summer introduction, as has been rumored.
Jaffray offered two concrete data points for the projection.
One iPhone equipment supplier he spoke to indicated that they had received orders for the equipment several months later than usual. The delay in parts suggests the final phone would also be delayed.
Secondly, the company has usually had a software event in the spring, followed by a hardware announcement at its summer developer conference.
There have been, on average, 79 days between the software event and the iPhone hardware announcement, he said.
But it appears the summer conference, the Worldwide Developer Conference, is a focus on software, suggesting that a hardware unveiling is coming later on, in the fall.
Anticipation has been mounting for the new iPhone since the 4th generation was rolled out in June of 2010. While widely regarded as cutting edge at its introduction, competitors like Samsung and HTC have surpassed the iPhone 4 in terms of hardware specs.
Industry insiders have chimed in on what will be in Apple's next iPhone 5, but the consensus that the next phone will be a super phone is diminishing.
Apple's next iPhone will be evolutionary not revolutionary, with perhaps a better camera and a different casing, but no 4G, or LTE, wireless modem, according to BMO Capital's Keith Bachman.
Writing to clients, Bachman explained that poor battery performance for LTE is one of the reasons why we think Apple's LTE phone will come in 2012.
The sentiment was echoed from other industry watchers just last week from Jefferies & Co. analyst Peter Misek. Instead, it will be an upgraded iPhone 4, most notably with a faster processor and some updated specs.
According to our industry checks, the device should be called iPhone 4S and include minor cosmetic changes, better cameras, A5 dual-core processor, and HSPA+ support, he writes in a research note.
The A5 processor is the same chip that Apple rolled out to power its iPad 2. As for LTE, he says the Qualcomm LTE chipset Apple would have used is currently not achieving yields sufficient for inclusion in the iPhone 5.
He says Apple had hoped to have the LTE chipsets ready, but was planning a version without LTE called iPhone 4S.
If true, the roll-out would match Apple precedent.
In 2008, Apple introduced the iPhone 3G and in 2009 introduced the iPhone 3GS -- the S standing for speed. For the most part, the 3GS was the same as the 3G, except it had a faster processor.
The move is sure to upset fans waiting for faster network connections and may complicate Apple's rumored iCloud service.
Regardless of when it does come out, it is almost sure to be a success, according to some industry watchers.
Caris & Co's Robert Cihra told clients last month that to focus solely on the the hardware and the launch date would be missing the point as Apple is no longer a hit product company, driven by timing.
It's not the hardware that matters, Cihra wrote, ...actually, it's the software+hardware+services in a fully-integrated vertical platform. As we've said repeatedly, iOS IS the 'what's next?' for Apple.
With cloud-based functionality integrated into the next iOS, promising newer services like digital lockers and access to unbridled computing power, the prospects for the next iPhone look bright, even if the timing is uncertain.