September 21st hosts many a unique holiday. It's International Peace Day, World Gratitude Day, and even Mini Golf Day. And if a mounting heap of news reports are correct, we can also add another holiday to the list: National Line Up At An Apple Store For The iPhone 5 Day.
TechCrunch (owned, like The Huffington Post, by AOL) is reporting that, according to a trusted source, Verizon retail employees are being denied vacation requests in the final week of September, due to the launch of the next-generation iPhone on September 21. This follows a similar report from mobile site BGR, who claimed that AT&T retail employees were being denied late-September holiday requests, also due to an impending iPhone release. (Quick, someone call a Sprint store!) And all of this comes after the generally reliable Apple blog iMore pegged the release date for the so-called "iPhone 5" on September 21, with Apple hosting an unveiling event on September 12.
Having covered the run-up to the launch of this new iPhone for the past several months, I'd have to say that there is now more evidence that the iPhone WILL be released on September 21st -- or on a date somewhere very close to that -- than evidence that it will not. And actually, the best proof we have that September 21st could be The Day comes not from any report that is specifically about the release date itself -- since those are all based on the circumstantial evidence surrounding retail store employee vacation schedules -- but rather, from the news of the date of the Apple event itself.
That's a bit complicated, so let's back up: iMore was first to report that "sources" had told them that one of those flashy Apple press conferences was scheduled for September 12. That was followed by other "sources" whispering the same thing to: Bloomberg, Reuters, the New York Times, The Verge, unofficial Apple mouthpiece Jim Dalrymple at The Loop, and the Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital blog.
Now, not to get myself kicked out of the Magician's Alliance, but if you don't think that these secret "sources" were Apple PR leaking information to favored publications, then you better head to the nearest bathroom mirror because someone has written the word "gullible" on your forehead in Sharpie.
That September 12 is the event date, then, seems all but certain; and you only have to know a little bit of Apple history and practices to know that when Apple holds an event, it likes to make its products available immediately after it introduces them, so that consumers riding the wave of excitement about a new iGadget will impulsively plunk down money and buy one. Traditionally -- for the last iPad, and the last iPhone, and the iPad before that, and the iPhone before that -- this has meant that online pre-orders start immediately after the event, and that the iPhone/iPad/iThing is on retail shelves the following week, usually 9 to 10 days after the big event. Given that September 12 is a Wednesday, and that Apple probably won't launch a product on the weekend because of reduced news coverage, it's a safe bet that the release date is either September 20 or September 21. Because the
iPad 3 new iPad and iPhone 4S both launched on a Friday, it's likely that Apple's next iPhone will hit shelves on September 21, a Friday.
Aside from this semi-logical deduction, there are also the reports from our dear, dear friends at TechCrunch, as well as BGR, iMore, and a handful of other sites. Taken together, a September 21 release date seems more than probable. So play a round of mini golf, be grateful for something, and then get in line at your local Apple store: September 21st is looking like New iPhone Day.
Just as this week's political news cycle surrounded Paul Ryan and how he fits in with Mitt Romney, so too has this week's tech cycle revolved around a smaller, thinner, more mysterious version of a well-known public entity: We are talking, of course, about the iPad Mini, the long-rumored miniaturized version of the 10-inch iPad that is said to have a 7.0-inch screen and a low, low price tag (uh, not Ryan-esque) to compete with the likes of the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire. Ayn Rand fetishizers aside (and at the risk of straining an already tenuous metaphor), there were three notable reports concerning the iPad Mini to bubble up this week. The first comes from Canada's number one Apple blog iMore, which you may remember as the well-sourced news outlet who first predicted the iPad 3's release date as well as the widely-accepted September Apple event date for the iPhone 5. This time, iMore is hearing some fresh whispers about the form and release date of the iPad Mini (which it still claims will be announced on September 12, along with the new iPhone). iMore hears that the iPad Mini will have the same thickness as the (super-thin) iPod Touch; that it will be much lighter than the current iPad; and that it will cost between $200 and $250. More on that at iMore. 9to5Mac, meanwhile, not only has a mock-up (drink!) of what it thinks are the dimensions of the iPad Mini (at left); it also has some information of its own, too. The iPad Mini, it says, will look a lot like a bigger iPod Touch, rather than a smaller iPad. (Maybe instead of the iPad Mini, they could call it the iPod Maxi? iMaxiPad? Tim Cook, are you listening?). It puts the price at somewhere between $200 and $300, for a launch in November/December. More at 9to5Mac, including what this thing might look like next to the Nexus 7. Finally, John Gruber of Daring Fireball (who is close like Glenn with Apple PR folks) weighs in with his own predictions, especially as it concerns pixel density, aspect ratio, bezel size, the precise millimeter measure of each dimension, etc. If this is how you like to spend your time, you can read that here; Gruber does predict that an iPad Mini will be quite thin and quite light and that it will more closely resemble an iPad than an iPod Touch, which seems to be the hot debate nowadays (in certain circles). What all of this indicates, when taken together with the reports from Bloomberg and Reuters, is that an iPad Mini (or iPad Air, or iPad Nano, or whatever) is looking more likely than ever to arrive in stores by the end of 2012. We had previously catalogued the ways in which Apple PR was likely leaking details about the next iPhone; the past month's iPadito rumors are probably coming from the same place. Apple is priming for an iPad Mini launch: Expect it by Christmas, if not sooner. And now, I know you've been doing that little dance you do when you really have to pee but the bathroom is occupied: Hold it in no more, hear is your weekly dose of iPhone 5 rumors...
Two biggies this week on the iPhone 5 front: First, iMore (hello again, long time no see!) wagers that the next iPhone will go on sale for preorder on September 12 (the day of that launch event) with an in-store availability on September 21. That's essentially a reiteration of its past reporting: iMore, like almost every other news outlet with close ties to Apple, is expecting a Tim Cook-led event to occur on September 12 or thereabouts, with an international roll-out the following week. End of story. Second, and another bit of reiteration, to be honest, the Korea Times is reporting that the next iPhone will indeed pack 4G LTE, to which the entire world says "DUH!" The latest iPad, of course, is 4G LTE-capable, and if the next iPhone is not then there is going to be an inquiry: Apple has lagged behind Android and Windows Phones in adding the faster network to its smartphone, a gap that it should eliminate with the iPhone 5. There were some other minor nibbles on the line, too: We're still hearing that the dock connector on the next iPhone is going to be greatly reduced in size, rendering decades of Apple accessories useless; we're still seeing a ton of internal parts leak out from the factories, all of which have been collected and diagrammed here for you. Boy Genius Report, meanwhile, hears that AT&T retail employees who request the final week of September off are being denied vacation, as that carrier prepares for the megalithic mega-launch of the iPhone 5. We're under a month away, presumably, folks. Start preparing your old device for a trade-in, because all evidence indicates that a new model is being mass-produced for a September debut.
We close this week with another mountain of news about a long-rumored Apple product: The Apple Television. First, Apple analyst Peter Misek of the firm Jeffries & Co. (DISCLOSURE: My dad's name is Jeffrey) put out a note to investors in which he says that he "believes" that the Apple television is already in production in Asia for a launch that could occur as soon as this winter to as late as the beginning of 2013. There's not much substance in the note about what the Apple television would actually do or what would set it apart, besides a fancy logo and the Apple pedigree, but let's step back for a moment: Could Apple really release a new iPhone, a smaller iPad, AND a brand new TV within six months of one another? Would that be -- and I don't mean to be sacrilege here -- too much Apple in too little time? Perhaps, which is a snafu that Misek notes in his, uh, note. But, he writes, because of increased competition in the phone and tablet space (damn you, Nexus 7 and Microsoft Surface!), the sooner Apple can expand into new territory like televisions, the better. So, you could be watching this year's Orange Bowl on an Apple-made television. Unless, says the Wall Street Journal...
That's what a pair of fresh reports from the Wall Street Journal suggests, at least. The Journal -- which has an excellent relationship with Apple brass -- hears that Apple is in talks with cable companies to let them build a kind of souped-up cable box, one that would replace the box you currently rent from your cable company. You would still be paying for cable, but Apple would be making the set-top box: Apple's vision includes social sharing features (like you might find on Boxee), a Cloud DVR feature that would allow you to start a show from the beginning even if you turned it on a few minutes late, and a redesigned, icon-centric interface similar to the home screen of your iPad. Should Apple convince a Time Warner or a Comcast to let it make cable boxes, it could be a first glimpse at what the so-called 'iTV' television set might offer; that television, which the late Steve Jobs confirmed Apple was indeed working on, will supposedly revolutionize the television viewing and discovery experience (though not everyone is convinced). A cable box built by Apple might hint at that TV's functionality: First we'll get the interface on the set-top box, and then we'll get the hardware, the flat-screen television. Good things come to those who wait, you know. That's all for This Week In Apple Rumors. Make sure to check back next week, where we'll discuss whether viewing The Newsroom on an Apple television would make it any better. And if you can't wait until next week, you can always get up-to-the-minute Apple rumors by following me on Twitter right here.