The previous versions of iPhones were released in June, however iPhone 5 has not followed that tradition. Basically, I think that the following factors are probably playing roles in that decision.
1. Antennagate of iPhone 4 – that caused some new design of the form factor of iPhone 5.
2. Delay of release of white iPhone 4 – same as above, both of which are something that I don’t think Steve Jobs would tolerate recurrence in iPhone 5 as long as he is still in charge of Apple.
3. Japan Earthquake in March – that might caused some constraints in the production of part supplies though Apple has lucrative contracts with her suppliers.
4. Verizon’s iPhone 4 – it definitely means iPhone 5 would need to handle both CDMA and GSM, on top of other internal upgrades.
5. Android Phones releases – Apple has been a leader and don’t want to be a follower of competitors’ products. Hence, it can’t just ignore what’s going on in the market, namely the rapid release of Android phones from various companies. As such, they need to be at least on par with if not leap over most Android phones in terms of functions.
As such, rather than the previous rumor of iPhone 5 would be an iPhone 4S, an incremental upgrade, most likely Apple is taking its time to do above that to maintain its lead over Android phones. Given that, I’m not surprise Apple is planning to release iPhone 5 later.
However, I’ve another thought which I’ve not come across in the media about the release schedule of iPhone 5. i.e. Apple is actually reshuffling the release schedule of all its products in view of the change of its product lines. I think that Apple, in this year or two, is going to consolidate its product release schedules into 3 annual events:
Q1 for Macs (iMac, MacBooks and peripherals)
Q2 for Software (WDCC)
Q3 for iOS products (iPods, iPhone and iPad?)
Q1 release is no brainer, it is already in process. Q2 for software has just been done with OSX, iOS5, and iCloud. Q3 release has long been music event for iPods which took place in Septembers. As iPod’s significance in Apple has been diminishing over the past few years, I don’t think it makes any sense to keep that as music only event anymore. To be honest, iPod Shuffle, iPod Nano, iPod Classic are fiddles. iPod Touch is the core product in the iPod line. However, what is the difference between iPod Touch and iPhone? Not much, except the calling part. Thus, it is kinda meaningless to hold an event to tell the world how iPod Touch is gonna catch up with the features and form factors of iPhone released few months earlier. Thus, I would be surprise iPhone will be the main course in near future and iPods upgrades will be side dishes instead.
Well, what about iPad? iPad has long been released in Apr with an special event. Since iPad is a product between Macs and iPhone, so function wise it make sense either being grouped in Macs or iPhone releases, particularly the latter given it is running iOS. However, with iPhone and iPods to be covered, if iPad is included as well, the event would be too long and too much info for people to digest. So, it also make some sense to be grouped under the Mac event as it is taking place in Q1 which is closer to Apr than Q3.
Anyway, I’ve no insider news and won’t know whether I’m right till Apple makes the moves. I guess the release of iPhone 5 and iPad 3 should give a pretty good idea to verify my thoughts.