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Rumor Roundup: October surprise


Though this week's Apple news was dominated by the company's not-at-all-shocking victory over Samsung in the Patent Trial of the Century, that doesn't mean sites didn't find time to squeeze out the usual gamut of rumors.

Apple's 'iPhone 5 Tsunami' predicted to sell 250M units over life cycle (AppleInsider)

Some analyst consulted his crystal ball and determined the next iPhone -- which hasn't sold a single unit or even been officially confirmed to exist yet -- will sell a quarter of a billion units. Apple's best quarter so far only managed 15M iPhone sales, for reference.

Even though the historical data (revealed in the Samsung trial discovery) shows each new iPhone has sold approximately as many units as all the iPhones before it combined, eventually there will come a time when that kind of growth is impossible unless every single living human being buys one. We're not quite there yet, but it's still way too early to make a call on the number of units sold for a product that's not even on the market.

iPod nano stock shortages across US retail seem to point at upcoming refresh (9to5 Mac)

Last week I let the snark flag fly when 9to5 Mac posted about a German "reward points" company claiming to be running dry on iPod nanos. The site did some further reporting and took the wind out of the snark flag in the process: according to their research, it turns out the nano is short on stock at a few retailers you may actually have heard of, like Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart.

Bottom line, if you know someone who's expressed interest in buying an iPod nano, maybe convince them to wait a couple of weeks. It's not looking like a smart time to buy one.

Apple to Ramp Up 7.85" iPad Mini Production in September? (MacRumors)

"Digitimes reports that" -- forget it. Just never mind.

Verizon Vacation Blackout Reveals The New iPhone Will Launch On Friday, September 21 (TechCrunch)

"A trusted Verizon employee" confirmed to TechCrunch that Verizon has declared they shalt not take vacation from September 21-30. Given the rumors out there already about the iPhone's release date, the natural conclusion is this is related to the launch of the next iPhone.

These vacation blackout periods have often been a decent hint of forthcoming launch dates, so it seems we won't have a full one-year wait between the iPhone 4S and the iPhone whatever-it's-called after all.

iPhone 5 supply shortages could make Apple's new phone hard to find (BGR)

Another "report" sourced from Digitimes, this time with the usual Chicken Little nonsense about component shortages meaning devices will be in short supply. Seriously, Digitimes says this literally every time a new Apple product is rumored to launch.

I live in the middle of the ocean, more than a thousand kilometers from the next nearest bit of land, and there isn't a single Apple Store in my country. The only times I've ever had trouble getting hold of a newly-launched Apple product have been due to the incompetence of a local telco or a brain-damaged Australian shipping company. Granted, there's usually a launch delay of several weeks before the products make it down to where I live in the first place, but once they do they're not hard to find.

Bottom line: If you simply must have the latest gizmo on launch day, then go get in line. If your constitution can handle a wait of a couple weeks, then don't worry about it. After all, if Apple's supposed to sell 250 million of the things, it has to be cranking them out at a breakneck pace already.

LG says started production of new screen, as Apple plans product launch (Reuters)

Reuters' headline makes it sound like LG's CEO got behind a podium and said outright the company was building screens for Apple. Instead, all he said was "We just began mass production and we don't expect any disruption in supplies." Every other word in the article is speculative.

These screens probably are bound for the next iPhone, sure. But Reuters (and most of the rumor blogs that followed in its trail) didn't do a stellar job distinguishing between the CEO's own comments and Reuters' own interpretation of the event.

Alleged Apple 'iPad mini' cases show rear camera, mystery hole (AppleInsider) (sounds legit!) posted photos of third-party cases supposedly destined for the iPad mini. These were obviously worth every bit of attention they received, because when have case makers ever gotten it wrong?

Claimed Next-Generation iPod Touch Case Points to Significant Redesign (MacRumors)

From the same dubious Chinese source as the iPad mini case leak, but this time for a different device: the iPod touch. This case also shows a "mystery hole" -- two forthcoming products with "mystery holes" raises the kinds of questions I'm not comfortable writing out in full. This is a family publication.

New rumors ahead of Apple media events: iPod touch redesign, iPod nano with WiFi, 'iPad mini' name (9to5 Mac)

Via 9to5 Mac, we learn that Macotakara has said the next iPod nano will have Wi-Fi for connecting to the iTunes Store, and the "iPad mini" will actually be called the "iPad mini."

Macotakara has gotten a few things right in the past, but not nearly often enough to take what the site says as gospel. Wi-Fi in the nano sounds like a logical enough development, but I must be the only person left in the tech world who thinks "iPad mini" is a tremendously irksome product name. Why not just go full-on ridiculous and call the iPod touch the "iPad nano" instead?

Sharing the Stage (Daring Fireball)

John Gruber officially needs to move out of my head. No less than 24 hours after a lunchtime conversation with my boss where I said it makes no sense for Apple to introduce a major new product like the "iPad mini" at the same event as a new iPhone, Gruber laid out a case eerily similar to my own. His premise is essentially that the press has a limited attention bin to draw from; they could focus attention (and adulation) on the newest iPhone or a new form of iPad, but not both at once.

Traditionally well-informed Jim Dalrymple of The Loop gave some brief affirmation for Gruber's analysis, which he repeated to Mike and Kelly on last night's Talkcast. Not long after, AllThingsD went all-things-in on the rumor, saying that Gruber's contention "more than makes sense -- it's so," according to sources. ATD's Apple connections are many and varied (starting at the top with Uncle Walt himself), so when the site puts multiple pins in the calendar that adds a lot of weight.

I'm inclined to agree. Think about it: I can't recall a single Apple keynote event in the past 10 years that went significantly over two hours. They usually hover around the 90-minute mark. Here's how I see the next event breaking down:

  • 15 minutes of recap on Apple's sales (the "bragging rights" intro)
  • 15 minutes reviewing iOS 6 features (in case we all forgot since June)
  • 30 minutes talking about the new iPhone's hardware and any iOS software features specific to it
  • 15 minutes of third-party software demos
  • 15 minutes of explanatory movies, new ads, and wrapup

Not only does that leave no time for an iPad mini intro, it also doesn't give us much (if any) time to introduce new iPods, either. That's why I think another event in October will give us the new iPod touch, probably new iPod nanos, and (god help us) maybe even an iPad mini. Here's how that event might play out:

  • 5 minutes bragging about iPhone sales
  • 20 minute demo of the new iPod nano
  • 15 minute demo of the new iPod touch
  • 30 minute demo and justification for the existence of the iPad mini
  • 10 minutes third-party software demos (Gosh, look how easy it is to build for this new device)
  • 10 minutes explanatory movies, new ads, and wrapup

It makes sense to me, anyway. Don't be shocked if the iPad mini is a no-show at the September event, but count on the internet to erupt in fury if it isn't there.

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