Apple may indeed delay the next iPhone until later in 2011 or beyond, according to a new report. That would represent a radical adjustment from the company's usual habit of releasing the latest version of its smartphone every summer.
The blog MacRumors posted May 4 about an unnamed reader who "received word from an AT&T customer care representative" that the next iPhone won't be released in the next few months.
"Apple has informed us that they do not plan to release the iPhone in the June to July timeframe," the blog quotes the AT&T agent as telling its source, "though there will be a newer version in the future. Unfortunately, we have not been given a release time for a new phone."
MacRumors greets the information with some skepticism. However, rumors have floated around for weeks that Apple intends to push back the release of the iPhone 5 to sometime later in the year, if not beyond.
The Loop's Jim Dalrymple suggested in March that Apple would delay the device until late in 2011. "Apple's apparent focus on software in its [Worldwide Developers Conference] announcement backs up what my own sources are saying about the actual conference," he wrote in a March 28 posting. "This is, expect a software show in 2011, not a hardware event."
In addition, other sources have suggested to the blog TechCrunch that the actual release of iOS 5, the next iteration of Apple's mobile software, could also be delayed until fall. Combined with an iPhone 5 launch in that period, it would represent a significant departure from the company's previous release roadmap.
"The new iOS will be heavily built around the cloud, and we could see several new services launch from Apple that take advantage of this," read TechCrunch's March 26 report. "But much of the cloud stuff will be talked about first at WWD."
Current rumors suggest the iPhone 5 will feature higher-resolution cameras, Apple's A5 proprietary processor, hardware upgraded to enable 3G FaceTime video conferencing, and NFC (near-field communication) technology that would enable the smartphone to act as an electronic wallet. In combination, those features could allow Apple to combat the growing (and increasingly sophisticated) family of Google Android devices.
The Android operating system held 37 percent of the U.S. market through March, according to the latest Nielsen data, overshadowing the iPhone at 27 percent. Other Nielsen data has the Android platform crowding out Apple as the consumer's smartphone of choice, although both companies hold a sizable lead in that metric over RIM's BlackBerry and Microsoft's Windows Mobile/Windows Phone 7.