Apple Ordering 56M Handsets Ahead of Expected iPhone 5 Launch [Report]

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Apple has told its handset suppliers to expect a boatload of iPhone orders for the second half of 2011, reportedly increasing the initial number to 56 million from 50 million units. Half of those handsets are for the much-anticipated iPhone 5, according to a Monday report.

Marching orders from the Cupertino, Calif. tech giant indicate Apple plans to introduce the iPhone later in 2011 or early 2012 with demand for previous-gen iPhones dropping as the new smartphone hits store shelves, according to industry publication Digitimes. In a sign Apple intends to introduce the iPhone 5 in October, rather than September, the company lowered third-quarter iPhone 5 orders to 5.5 million units, down from 7 million. However, fourth-quarter orders rose to 20 million, up from 14 million, according to suppliers talking to the publication.

Although orders for all other iPhone models — the iPhone 4, iPhone 4 CDMA and iPhone 3GS — will surpass 20 million units for the year, Apple lowered fourth-quarter orders to 8 million units. The iPhone 5 comprises 25-26 million of the overall 56 million units ordered for the second half of 2011.

What does this all mean? A huge launch of the iPhone 5, which Apple is banking on being their most popular device yet. Will you be picking one up at launch?