iPhone 5 is Nowhere Near Production

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There's almost no chance of an iPhone 5 debut this June. Apple has not booked component orders for the mythical next-gen device and also lacks a finalized production road map for the beast, which will, dear readers, be made available in white -- maybe...

A deluge of reports in recent weeks mean we've been working on the assumption Apple won't introduce the new smartphone until September, but even this could be optimistic a new report explains -- it may even be 2012 before we see iPhone 5.

No end to iPhone 4 manufacture

The report informs us that shipment volumes of the iPhone 4 continue to increase and that relevant suppliers haven't yet been asked to put together production lines for new components for a new model phone.

[This story is from Computerworld's Apple Holic blog. Follow on Twitter or subscribe via RSS to make sure you don't miss a beat.]

Most tellingly, touch panel orders remain, "steady, indicating that Apple has no plans to stop current production of the current model of the device."

The report does hint that we may not be seeing the big picture:

"Having initiated a business model that integrates new designs, software and hardware for smartphones, it is not impossible for Apple to roll out an entry-level iPhone for the sake of grabbing market share, said sources from handset makers."

Could Apple plan to lower the price on the existing product to maintain sales into the end of the year, pending introduction of the next-generation phone? Could an iPhone nano be part of its plan to take on the poorly-designed Android ecosystem?

Component matters

It could be as simple as component supply. Sony CEO Howard Stringer recently said that the Japanese quake/tsunami/nuclear disaster had affected the company's Sendai plant, where it produces CMOS camera sensors. Stringer claimed Apple buys its sensors from Sony.

In related iPhone 5 news we believe Wintek will be the only touch panel supplier for white models of the iPhone 5, suggesting the company intends reintroducing that configuration in the future of the product line. Apple's A5 processors are likely to be supplied by TSMC, rather than Samsung.

Avian Securities analysts don't expect iPhone 5 to hit manufacturing until September, citing key component suppliers, they warn.

"Supporting out comments over the last month, conversations with yet another key component supplier indicates that production for iPhone-5 will begin in September. This is consistent with Avian findings in the supply chain in recent months and we believe the consensus view is moving towards this scenario." (BusinessInsider).

All Things Digital's John Paczkowski expects the new phone will be introduced in September, as part of the iPod product refresh event.

Apple doesn't plan to unveil a new iPhone at its Worldwide Developers Conference, which this year will be largely software-focused. Instead, there's plausible speculation the company will use its annual September music event to launch iPhone 5.

Some say the next-generation device won't show up in the shops until 2012.

South American marching

This suggests something else -- is it possible Apple and Foxconn intend on manufacturing the new iPhones in Brazil? After all, Foxconn wants to invest $12 billion in plant in that country.

Could this be a move to increase secrecy on product development by splitting production lines across continents, and also to boost proitability by reducing transportation costs to serve the huge US market?

After all, it is known that Apple likes to split its project teams up into small groups, with each team working on an element without any knowledge of the big picture. Could establishing production plants on two continents help the company keep its plans secret? Could a South American connection help Apple keep its powder dry?

Foxconn apparently intends on producing iPads at its new South American manufactory in November. This could also be a reaction to the series of tragic suicides among iPhone assembly line workers at the company's Chinese plant.

Weighing-up all the rumor, it seems clear there will be no iPhone 5 in June -- unless Apple has a fiendishly clever plan to amaze and surprise the market...

Are you convinced? Is the iPhone a no-show until 2012, or is Apple playing the rumor game to out-fox the competition? Let us know what you think in comments below.

I'd also be ever so pleased if you began following me on Twitter so I can let you know when new reports get published here first on Computerworld.

This story, "iPhone 5 is Nowhere Near Production" was originally published by Computerworld.

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