It’s amazing to me how the form factor and features of the iPhone 5, the advent of the iPad Mini, and the September 12th announcement date that will herald them all into existence, are all not a foregone conclusion for the tech media — and have been for some time. Perhaps it is simply that the media and tech users have reached some kind of psychic breaking point in their wait for the elusive iPhone 5, and that the tacit acceptance of these rumors as facts is some kind of variant on Stockholm Syndrome: we’ve been held hostage by Apple for so long that now we’re prepared to believe anything.
Each passing week has revealed a new part or sighting of the elongated iPhone 5 specs which, combined with a crescendo of mass production reports coming out of Asia, has constructed some sort of consensus that what we’re seeing is what we’re going to get. It’s certainly possible — we had glimpses of the iPad 3 that turned out to be largely accurate. At the same time, the source and presentation of the parts have been just sketchy enough to leave a lingering measure of doubt. Could it be that the scammers are just getting better and better at scamming us?
Even more puzzling is the belief in the iPad Mini. Though production reports and leaked photos have been scarce throughout the tech world, media sources insist that Apple will indeed unveil the long-rumored mini tablet alongside the iPhone 5, in a move that is so decidedly un-Apple and un-Steve Jobs. If Apple co-releases these products, then it will mark a profound sea change in the Jobsian approach to hyping and marketing Apple products.
And if all the iPhone 5 leaks turn out to be true, even moreso.
But what about this September 12th announcement date? It too has become cemented into the story of the iPhone 5. Can we rely on September 12th to truly be “the event we’ve all been waiting for?” (Kind of like how WWDC 2012 was “the week we’ve all been waiting for”?)
Some folks have asked me about my consumer electronics accessories sources in Asia, and what they are saying. They are all in on these rumors, just like the rest of the tech community. Cases are being tooled for the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini, and September 12th is D-Day for the launch of marketing campaigns in order to be first to market with new iPhone 5 and iPad Mini gear. But where are they getting their information from? From the bits of iPhone 5 flotsam and jetsam that have leaked into the rumor mill out of shady mainland China?
Moreover, why are we locked into September 12?
So far as I can tell, the September 12th announcement date stands as a result of this article from iMore, published on July 30th:
iMore has learned that 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. This information comes from sources who have proven accurate in the past.
The iPad mini will be announced at the same September 12 event, as will the new iPod nano. We haven’t heard a release date for the iPad mini yet, but it could be the same as the iPhone 5. It seems likely the new iPod touch will make an appearance on September 12 as well, though we haven’t heard any specific information about that yet either.
Dig deeper into the article, and you start to realize that iMore’s September 12th claim seems more like a deduction based on a rumor posted on a French website citing Chinese sources: “Last week, App4Phone.fr, citing Chinese manufacturing sources, reported the September 21 release date.”
Then, iMore seeks to bolster its claim by citing the agreement of some tech media heavyweights: “Update 2: Jim Dalrymple of The Loop has added his trademark “yep”. Update 3: The Verge is now reporting the September 12, 2012 date as well.”
Interestingly enough, The Verge is where the notion of the elongated iPhone 5 screen first appeared.
Apple is certainly able to call a press conference at its headquarters in Cupertino, but looking at the Moscone Center’s schedule for September, it seems unlikely that there is any way the event could take place there on September 12th:
Intel, which is one of Apple’s key partners, has an event that straddles the 12th, its their big convention/tradeshow for the year. Would Apple have an event to release three new devices — iPhone 5, iPad Mini, and new iPods — and completely suck the air out of Intel’s gig down the street? Maybe.
If Apple is really going to do this on September 12th, it would stand to reason that they would need to get invitations out by September 1st or so, in order to give the mainstream media ample time to get their schedules in place to attend. With that weekend being the Labor Day weekend in the U.S., and the start-up of school the following week, that’s an awfully awkward time to have this landmark event, isn’t it? Last year’s October event was much better positioned, since most people had already settled down into a routine — and were ready to spend some money.
Just as I am not 100% sold on all of this iPhone 5 and iPad Mini stuff going into the announcement, I’m also not 100% sold on the date of the announcement, either. Apple has shown us that anything is possible. But if all this comes true, it seems to make a lot less sense than we’re used to Apple making when it comes to product releases.
By Michael Nace