Apple's suppliers had a banner July, providing yet another clue that the company has geared up production to release a new iPhone and a smaller iPad in four weeks, an analyst said.
According to Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets, his "Apple Monitor" -- an index of Taiwanese component makers that derive more than half of their revenue from sales to Apple -- jumped 14% from June to July, the largest month-over-month increase for any July.
The sales gains were significantly higher than the average June-to-July increase or 8.5% over the last seven years.
"We believe this strength reflects the Apple supply chain ramping up production of new products for Apple that are expected to launch this September," White said in a research note to clients Thursday.
White and other analysts expect that Apple will launch its next iPhone -- pegged by pundits as the "iPhone 5" in lieu of any name released by Apple -- as well as a smaller 7.85-in. iPad to compete with the increasing number of similar-sized, lower-priced tablets from companies such as Amazon, Google and Samsung.
Apple, of course, has said nothing about a debut of the next iPhone, much less a scaled-down iPad, but speculation has focused on a possible Sept. 12 launch of both.
All the Cupertino, Calif., company has admitted is a lower margin for the quarter ending Sept. 30. Last month, Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's CFO, told analysts during an earnings call that the smaller margin -- a predicted 38.5%, the first time in almost two years that Apple's guidance has been below 40% -- would be due to a "fall transition," the launch of one or more new products.
This year's June-to-July Apple Monitor boost was double the 7% growth in July 2011, another piece of evidence, White said, that supports the idea that the iPhone 5 will launch next month rather than mimic the timetable of last year's iPhone 4S, which Apple introduced Oct. 4, 2011.
White read his Apple Monitor as a sure sign that Apple's looking at a big third quarter and an even larger fourth.
"[This] sets up what we believe will be the biggest second-half product launch in Apple's history," he said.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.