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Does WWDC hint at later iPhone 5, iOS 5 releases?

Analysts try to read Apple tea leaves, disagree on next iPhone launch date

March 28, 2011 03:47 PM ET

Computerworld - Although Apple today announced that its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) will begin June 6, analysts are starting to question whether the company will introduce its next iPhone at the event.

WWDC
Apple's WWDC tagline, 'Join us for a preview of the future of iOS,' has some analysts thinking iOS 5 might show up later than expected.

WWDC, which will run June 6-10, was expected during that stretch because of Apple's practice of holding the conference in early June the past several years. Last month, San Francisco's Moscone Center, the WWDC venue since 2003, listed an event on its schedule that hinted at Apple's annual developers confab.

But today analysts struggled to parse Apple's statement that it will preview the next version of iOS at WWDC.

According to a Monday press release, Apple plans "to unveil the future of iOS and Mac OS" at WWDC.

That's being interpreted by some pundits as meaning Apple will not preview the next version of iOS -- likely dubbed iOS 5 -- before WWDC, which would be a departure for the company and may mean a new edition won't be available this summer.

Apple has previewed the next generation of iOS in March or April the last three years, giving developers time to work new features into their apps before the operating system launched several months later around the time of the newest iPhone's debut.

Last year, Apple took the wraps off iOS 4 and released an SDK (software developer kit) in early April, more than two months before it and the iPhone 4 shipped in late June. In 2008 and 2009, Apple previewed the next version of the operating system in March, again months before reaching the public and being loaded into the newest iPhones.

According to Jim Dalrymple, a former editor at Macworld -- like Computerworld, an IDG publication -- and who now writes The Loop blog, Apple will not announce new hardware, including the next iPhone, at this year's WWDC.

Apple has used the WWDC platform three years running to roll out its newest iPhone, and started shipping the new smartphone several weeks after the conference.

But that doesn't mean Apple can't mix it up.

"People have gotten a little too used to Apple doing certain things at a certain time of the year," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Gartner Research. "There's nothing that says Apple has to make journalists' or analysts' lives easier by keeping to a pattern. Sometimes they don't."

Gartenberg read Apple's WWDC announcement as an indication that the event will focus on software, and eschew what he called "this bit or that bit of shiny new hardware."



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