Apple has made one of the two biggest announcements it would ever make this year -- the resignation of iconic leader Steve Jobs as Chief Executive Officer. The other landmark announcement, which it hasn’t made as yet, is the one related to the iPhone 5 release date. There is fat chance the Cupertino giant will start sending invites for the iPhone 5 event sooner rather than later. More so, in the backdrop of the exit of the visionary leader Jobs.

Analysts and industry watchers have gone gaga over the impact of Jobs' exit on the iPhone 5 release date. While some are cynical and say Jobs’ exit would delay iPhone 5's entry by a couple of months, others ooze confidence that the flagship device from the Apple stable will see the light of the day soon. Probably sooner than the hitherto prevailing consensus launch window sometime in October.

Bill Palmer, writing in Beatweek, says it is possible that Apple could employ the classic PR strategy of following up a bad news with a good one. The remedy for getting the Jobs news out of the tech headlines, then, is to put out the iPhone 5 news quickly thereafter so that attention shifts as quickly as possible, he writes.

So could that mean iPhone 5 is round the corner, earlier than October? The answer is a thumbsucker, and only Apple knows. In fact, Apple has not even confirmed if the next iteration of the  iPhone will be called iPhone 5. It has not given the slightest hint about the device being anywhere near announcement. However, there have been numerous reports on its imminent arrival, sourced to leaks from Apple's Asian manufacturers.

Reuters had reported on Aug. 23 that Apple was likely to unveil a lower-priced iPhone variant, probably called iPhone 4S, within weeks.
The new iPhone -- which some call the iPhone 4S because of its largely identical appearance to the existing iPhone 4 -- will have a bigger touch screen, better antenna and an 8-megapixel camera, one source said, the report said.

The report did not shed any light on a possible iPhone 5 launch, but added that Apple has told manufacturers to ready as many as 45 million units.

The iPhone 5's two manufacturers have been told to prepare production capacity for up to 45 million units altogether, the source said. The phone will be made by Hon Hai Precision Industries Co Ltd and Pegatron Corp, the person added, the report said.

A Japanese tech Web site, Kodawarisan, reported recently that Apple could unveil an iCloud iPhone on Sept. 7, and that, along with a new iPhone, it could also release a slate of new iPods. Kodawarisan has a history of accurately predicting major Apple events in the past, and it says unlike last year, this year's Apple special event could be the stage for releasing iPhone 5.

According to rumors, iPhone 5 could feature significant hardware and software upgrades. The device is touted to sport an 8-megapixel camera and an A5 dual-core processor found in the iPad 2 as Apple is determined to give stiff competition to other dual-core smartphones in the market.

Palmer suggests that having resigned as the CEO, Jobs could make a stage appearance at the iPhone 5 launch event. If Jobs does show up and unveil the iPhone 5 and announce its release date himself next week, it would actually be an interesting strategy... he says.