AppleInsider Staff report that Apple has negotiated more deals with smaller regional domestic carriers — mot recently with Kentucky’s Bluegrass Cellular, California’s Golden State Cellular, and Kansas’ Nex-Tech Wireless, which will begin offering the iPhone 4S on May 18.
So, what does that have to do with the iPhone 5? Nothing directly, but it does seem unlikely that Apple would be setting up more carrier partners with iPhone 4S stock and promotions for the third week of May if they are planning to unveil their next generation handset at the World Wide Developers Conference less than a month after that.
The Appleinsider report notes that these latest regional carrier partnerships come a month after five other small carriers announced they had signed partner deals with Apple, namely: Alaska Communications, Appalachian Wireless, Cellcom, GCI and nTelos which all began selling the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 on April 20.
More circumstantial evidence supporting the probability of a late summer (which includes most of September) or early fall iPhone 5 release is found in another AppleInsider report by Mikey Campbell, who cites an unnamed source who Campbell says is “familiar with the matter” and has proved accurate in previous reports, saying AppleCare’s EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) division is allegedly hiring and training new staff on certain aspects of Apple’s upcoming OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, indicating that a release date may be nearer in the future than has been expected. Possibly at the WWDC? Campbell thinks it could be, noting that while it’s purely speculation, the training could point to a OS X 10.8 debut at WWDC 2012 which runs June 11 to 15.
If there is to be a Mountain Lion release at WWDC, it seems highly unlikely that Apple would choose that venue for a simultaneous iPhone 5 rollout.
Michael Nace has already commented here about a Digitimes report on Wednesday by Monica Chen and Joseph Tsai who say that Pegatron Technology, which is currently a major Apple OEM subcontractor building the iPhone 4S, has reportedly landed orders for a new-generation iPhone to be launched in September. Chen and Tsai note that Pegatron has already finished expanding its equipment and labor force in preparation for fulfilling Apple’s orders for a next-generation iPhone.
Production beginning soon would be about right for starting to build an inventory stockpile to be ready for a September release, which brings us back to the deduction that Apple may be fixing to shift its traditional September iPod refresh slot to the iPhone. I’ve previously observed that it would make eminent good sense to dedicate such a strategic time slot on Apple’s product refresh cycle during the back-to-school season and just ahead of the pre-Christmas sales boom to a money-spinning product like the iPhone rather than one whose star is in decline like the iPod.
No clear confirmation of Apple’s product release intentions, but circumstantial clues continue to pile up pointing to September-ish as the likeliest prospect for the next-generation iPhone.