Possible 2012 iPhone 5 Announcement Dates

No one has even a clue about when the iPhone 5 could drop in 2012. But that doesn’t stop us from staking out a few possible dates, events, and times.

In the wake of Apple doing the unthinkable — changing the typical release date of the iPhone — the natural progression of new iPhones is now in flux for those of us who enjoy the sport of speculating and anticipating what Cupertino is cooking up for our favorite gadget. After blazing a steady, reliable trajectory for each new iPhone release — the WWDC in June — we are forced to think out of the box and wonder if Apple has instituted a new release paradigm, a return to the WWDC release party, or an ad hoc schedule that will change from year to year.

Boy, I hope it isn’t the latter!

Assuming that new Apple CEO Tim Cook doesn’t use one of those Magic 8 Balls to decide the iPhone 5‘s release date, there are a few possible date ranges and events that could be ripe for the new iPhone 5. Let’s consider some of them, shall we?

For fun.

Macworld Convention — January

Remember back in the day when Macworld and Apple were of one mind? It was a critical event for Apple and Steve Jobs to get out in front of the tech community and lay out the exciting possibilities for each new year. It remains to be seen why Apple has receded from MacWorld over the past few years, but my guess is that Jobs’ health had at least something to do with it.

Even if Tim Cook decides to get Apple more involved with Macworld again, the possibility of a late January-announced iPhone 5 is nominal at best. Even though the iPhone 4S turned out to be a refresh of the iPhone 4, Apple doesn’t undercut its own products (this is why there was no iPad 3 in the fall, like some rumors suggested). The iPhone 4S will ostensibly sell like hotcakes for the foreseeable future, and Apple isn’t going to kill 4S sales to release the 5 prematurely.

However, even if the iPhone 5 isn’t announced in late January, by this time, we could know more about the A6 chip. And this could also be the time where we begin to hear about iPhone 5 production ramping up.

Spring 2012

The iPad 2 was released in mid March of 2011, following a similar pattern as the release of the original iPad. As a result, springtime is now a consideration for an iPhone 5 release. Considering that the iPhone 4S was released in early October, an iPhone 5 announcement in April, for example, would give the 4S six months of uninterrupted sales.

May could also be interesting if Apple continues to enjoy the use of symbolism. May 5th, or 5/5/12, could be an attractive buzz date for an “iPhone 5.”

Still, a Spring release may not offer Apple an ample sales buffer between the 4S and 5, and it could muddy the waters for an iPad 3 release, in order to keep on track with its usual Spring launch.

WWDC 2012 — June

Even though apple chose to skip over WWDC this year and only release iOS 5 at the event, my feeling is that WWDC 2012 represents the first really legitimate possibility for the iPhone 5 announcement to come down. while it would be well less than a year after the release of the iPhone 4S, Apple could justify a sub-year release of the next iPhone based on the fact that the 4S didn’t deliver a new screen, new look, or 4G LTE.

Also, since many feel that Sprint’s announcement to roll out their 4G network — and supporting devices — by “mid 2012″ could indicate that a 4G iPhone 5 could launch in June.

What will be interesting to see, however, is if Apple would use the 2012 WWDC to unveil an iOS 6 as well. My thinking on this is that it would be much easier to justify a new device release in June of 2012 than another software upgrade, since you can argue that, while the iPhone 4S represents a hardware refresh, iOS 5 represents a software overhaul. Thus, we may not see an iOS 6 until 2013.

October 5th, 2012

Oh man — no one wants to think that the iPhone 5 launch could be almost a year away. But Apple has typically put at least a year between its iPhone iterations. It very well may be that Apple doesn’t even have a hard-line release date for the iPhone 5 yet; sales may dictate the schedule, and sway their decision from launching in June, or else waiting for October again.

When I don’t think the iPhone 5 Will Be Released

having learned a lesson from the likes of CNET UK and some of the other failed iPhone 5 release date prognosticators of 2011, I firmly believe that we will never see an iPhone 5 release — or any iPhone release for that matter — in August or the first week of September. I have argued in the past that August is a terrible sales month for most industry segments — Apple’s included. My feeling is that Apple chooses not to take advantage of the WWDC to announce the iPhone 5, there’s a fair chance that the next “window” would be October.

What do you think? Do you have a theory on when Apple might release its next iPhone? Run it up the flagpole!

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