Over the past few months, not a day has gone by that our Twitter feed hasn’t been been bombarded by a consistent string of questions that millions of hungry Apple fans are just clamoring to have answered:
When will Apple announced the iPhone 5?
When will I be able to preorder the iPhone 5?
When is the iPhone 5 coming out?
We think we know. Here’s the complete release timeline of the iPhone 5 we think you can expect, starting from which day we think Apple will send out invitations and continuing to the iPhone 5’s October 7th release date.
While Apple is an incredibly secretive company they are also fairly predictable, in that all of there actions are very deliberate. There’s a good saying that’s applicable here: “To figure out what Apple will do in the future, look at what they’ve done in the past.” Every product launch has been preceded by fragmented clues as to what Apple is going to do next. There’s no science to this sort of flexible tradition that Apple has established, but predicting what they’re going to do next is a bit easier than predicting the future via tea leaves. We don’t have any special insider information for the exact dates the iPhone 5 will be launched, but we have a pretty good understanding of how Apple operates, and that helps us extrapolate what is to come.
So here’s what we think Apple’s iPhone 5 Release Timeline looks like:
September 21st - Will be the day the event will be held in the San Francisco area.
September 28th - Pre-orders will be taken online.
October 7th - The iPhone 5 will finally be available to the masses.
How’d we come up with these dates? Let’s work backwards from October 7th.
October 7th: October 7th, 2011 is the most consistently rumored date for the iPhone 5’s release, and there’s some strong evidence to back it up… for example, this leaked internal doc from Sprint saying the iPhone 5 will go on sale in the first week of October. Best Buy says the same thing.
If the iPhone 5 doesn’t actually start hitting stores on October 7th, we’d be gobsmacked if it wasn’t so close to this date as to not make any difference. So if October 7th’s the release date, when can you order one?
September 28th: It’s possible that Apple will offer iPhone 5 preorders the same day as they announce the iPhone 5, but that’s not likely based on Apple’s recent history. When Apple announced the iPhone 4 on June 7th of last year, preorders started eight days later on June 15th… and units started hitting stores on June 24th. If Apple stays consistent — which it usually does — the iPhone 5 will be available to preorder nine days before it debuts.
September 21st: If Apple sticks to the release timeline of the iPhone 4, a week and a half or so before preorders are made available, Apple will host their Fall Event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, California and officially unveil the iPhone 5.
September 14th: Traditionally, Apple sends out media invites a full week before they hold an event. This gives all the glamorous and important members of the press time to get to the West Coast. Most of the events this year have been held on a Wednesday, and three of the last four Fall media events, at which Apple traditionally announces new iPods, have occurred on Wednesday. Invites to their events typically feature some short tagline that gives a hint as to what we can expect, yet at the same time veiling the announcement with enough secrecy so as not to spoil the surprise.
We think our rationale for Apple’s iPhone 5 release timeline is pretty strong, but you might be asking yourself: why does Apple have so many stages in its timeline for the iPhone 5’s product release? Why not just announce it and make it available for sale the same day?
The answer’s simple: hype!
Apple could certainly wait until millions of units have been produced and shipped before they announce the iPhone 5, but that’s not their style. Every iPhone and iPad launch has had a delicately crafted tsunami of hype insulating it; feeding its growth till it becomes their newest monster. When the new MacBook Airs were announced a few months ago Apple Stores had stock of the new units the very next day, but when it comes to the iPhoneApple loves to titillate their fans worse than Holly Golightly promising to show you the goods if you’ll just be patient. The iPhone 4 was launched on a Friday which gives customers an excuse to duck out of work early at the end of the week to go line up. Lines outside of stores generate press, which in turn generates more interest and more sales. People think they might not get a new iPhone 5 because Apple Stores won’t tell customers how many units they have in stock, leading them to believe their only option for salvation is to wait at the back of the line with the rest of the starved masses. It’s almost revolting how easily Apple drums up hype for a new iPhone before launch, but it works so well and has made every evolution of the iPhone feel important in its own way.
All in all we may be off by a day here or there, but the general outline is something we feel we can currently stand by, based upon what Apple has done in the past. Now you’ll excuse me while I go prep my iPhone 5 Launch line survival kit.
Hat tip: 9to5Mac