It is rare that I comment on Apple rumors, and I don't think that I've ever devoted an entire post to one, but practically ever since the iPhone 4 was first announced by Steve Jobs on June 7, 2010, people have been wondering when we would see the 2011 version of the iPhone. Now we have what I believe to be a credible rumor that the next iPhone will be announced on October 4, with the device itself likely available for purchase in mid-October. It used to be that we would always see new iPhones in the summer. The original iPhone was available on June 29, 2007. The Phone 3G was available on July 11, 2008. The iPhone 3GS was available on June 19, 2009. The iPhone 4 was available on June 24, 2010. You could predict that new iPhones would be available, or at least announced, every year in June. Indeed, Apple's chief marketing executive, Phil Schiller, mentioned to David Pogue of the New York Times in early 2009 that Apple has a cycle for its products and that June was the key month for the iPhone cycle. But a lot has changed since early 2009. When Schiller mentioned June being the iPhone cycle, he also mentioned October being the key month for the iPod cycle, but nowadays iPods don't carry the excitement that they once did. The only really exciting iPod is the iPod touch, which is of course just an iPhone without the phone. As John Gruber of Daring Fireball pointed out in an article last night, the iPhone and iPad are the exciting products now, not the iPod, so it makes sense to feature iOS devices in a Fall announcement so that there are shiny new Apple toys to buy for the holidays. There are dozens of websites devoted to Apple gossip and rumors, but some of the most reliable Apple rumors come from the Wall Street Journal – so much so that I've often wondered if Apple purposefully leaks rumors to that publication, although Wall Street Journal reporters frequently deny this, so who knows. Whatever their sources, they tend to be good sources. Yesterday, John Pacakowski of All Things D (part of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network) published a report that the next iPhone will be announced at an event held on October 4, 2011. Given that it now makes sense to expect an iPhone announcement in the Fall, and given the Journal's reputation for Apple rumors, when I first saw this article I thought that it sounded very credible. And then we got further confirmation. Perhaps the second most reliable source for Apple rumors is Jim Dalrymple, a former Macworld editor who now runs a site called The Loop. Dalrymple frequently seems to have reliable Apple-related sources who whisper in his ear, and shortly after Pacakowski posted his report yesterday morning, Dalrymple linked to it with the one word confirmation "Yep." And then, proving the old adage that a second thirds it, we got a third report yesterday of new iPhones next month from none other than former Vice Preident and current Apple board member Al Gore. Gore was speaking at a conference yesterday, and in the context of talking about technology advances he stated "Not to mention the new iPhones coming out next month." (I believe that the original source for this quote was this tweet by Toby Shapshak.) So now we have the two most reliable sources for Apple rumors saying October 4, and an Apple board member also saying that the next iPhone is coming out next month. Short of a statement from Steve Jobs or Tim Cook, that is about as solid as an Apple rumor as you are going to get. If the next iPhone will be announced on October 4, when will it be available? Philip Elmer-DeWitt of Fortune took a look at the last few years and reported that it tends to average about two weeks from the announcement of a new iPhone until the availability of the new iPhone. Apple often makes new iPhones available on a Friday, so perhaps we will be able to purchase new iPhones on Friday, October 14, or maybe Friday October 21? I am very excited for the next iPhone announcement. While we know about many of the cool new features of iOS 5 software, and it is probably a safe bet that the next iPhone hardware will include a better camera and a faster processor, beyond that we really don't know what will be included. Nor do we know the name: iPhone 4S? iPhone 5? (I just hope that Apple doesn't call it the iPhone J.D., because that will make things very confusing around here.) So for all of you who have been e-mailing me and asking me about my thoughts on when the iPhone will be out, based on the three reports from yesterday and Apple's historical desire to have a big Fall announcement before the holiday shopping season, it looks like early October for an announcement and mid-October for availability. We'll see.
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