iPhone 5 release date: September 12, reports claim

Apple [AAPL] plans a September 12 special event during which it is expected to at last reveal its new iPhone, also known as the iPhone 5 according to a series of reputable reports with the product set to ship 9 days later.

[ABOVE: As shown yesterday, it will be interesting to see if this really is the iPhone 5/new iPhone casing in a few weeks time.]

Reputable sources

D: All Things Digital, The Loop and others are all making claims of this September 12 event, and while most are not categorically stating this will see the introduction of the new device, the date does seem to match existing speculation claiming a Fall release of the new smartphone. Recent reports claimed iPhone 5 production to have already begun. The device should then ship around September 21/22, we're told.

It is no secret the company has held a special event at around this time each year since the October iPod launch back in 2001. Traditionally this has seen the company introduce the latest iterations of its music products.

However, as iPod sales decline the company is becoming ever more focused on its range of connected mobile devices: iPhone, iPad, MacBook Air, iPod touch.

Reports of a September 12 introduction first began when iMore claimed: "Apple is planning to debut the new iPhone at a special event on Wednesday, September 12, 2012, with the release date to follow 9 days later on Friday, September 21."

Also on the menu

The company may also introduce the 7.85-inch iPad nano, a new and connected iPod nano and a new model iPod touch at or near this event. A thinner iPad model may appear, though I remain unconvinced that will appear until early next year.

Introduction of the new iPhone will likely be twinned with the introduction of iTunes improvements, equipped with better features for connected devices.

Connectivity will be the focus of the September 12 launch. All the new devices seem likely to boast connectivity of some kind, reflecting the importance of Apple's cloud-based media management solution, iTunes Match.

It is possible the company may spice up these releases with introduction of some form of TV show subscription service. That seems likely to be a US only affair at first, as the company assembles the pieces for an Apple television set in or around 2013.

Wells Fargo Securities analyst Maynard Um observed: “In our view, an increase in inventory component prepayment may suggest that Apple is securing supply for potential new product launches.

Stay open

It might be wise to temper expectation based on component orders. Recent rumors have suggested the company has a huge wave of planned products in the pipeline. However, when you look to the new iPhone it is clear the company will launch the device to a wave of pent-up demand.

Given the huge growth in interest in smartphones, it is clear the company is going to have to invest heavily in order to ensure it has sufficient component supply to manufacture tens of millions of units of the new iPhone within weeks of release. This alone could account for the huge climb in component investments.

I'll admit the launch date to be a few weeks earlier than I originally expected. This may well always have been Apple's plan, but could also reflect its reaction to the continued slow down in iPhone sales pending release of the new model, reflecting what may well be an unprecedented amount of pent-up demand.

Introduction of the device just in advance of the end of the company's fourth quarter could also constitute a smart move to keep iPhone unit sales high in the period, in an attempt to defray the usual "iPhone dominance crumbles" reports.

Is Android waning?

In light of the latter reports it is probably interesting to note a new research note from Strategy Analytics that was distributed yesterday only to be seemingly ignored by most media outlets. (Interesting given the heavy reporting of previous data from the analyst firm that showed Samsung beating Apple's market share).

The new SA report seems to confirm Apple's set to clean up in the US on the release of the new iPhone. It claims Android's share of the US smartphone market fell by 4 points on an annual basis to 56 percent in Q2 2012.
In contrast, Apple's US share grew by 10 points annually to 33 percent during the same period.

Citing a volatile economy and high smartphone use among contract customers as cause, Alex Spektor, Associate Director at Strategy Analytics, said: "Smartphone shipments fell 5 percent annually to reach 23.8 million units in the United States in Q2 2012. This was one of the slowest growth rates ever experienced by the important US smartphone market."

Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics added (in a press release provided to me, emphasis added): “We estimate Android shipped 13.4 million smartphones for 56 percent share of the US market in the second quarter of 2012. This was down from 15.3 million units shipped and 61 percent share a year earlier. Android remains the number one platform by volume in the United States, but its market share is approaching a peak and Apple's iOS has been gaining ground. Apple’s US market share has risen by ten points from 23 percent in Q2 2011 to 33 percent in Q2 2012. Apple is rumored to be launching a new iPhone in the coming weeks, and that event, if it takes place, is going to heap even more pressure on Android in its home market.

That event seems set to now take place on September 12.

I anticipate the new iPhone will be lapped up by a receptive US public who have been waiting with bated breath for the new device, a device Apple's manufacturing partner, Foxconn, has predicted will: "Put the Samsung Galaxy III to shame."

Clearly there are huge expectations for the device.

Do you think it will be enough for Apple to regain market leadership, or a gift to consumers who will benefit from the more competitive smartphones competitors will introduce a few months later?

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