Apple Round-Up: iPhone Launch Times, iCloud's Arrival, Netflix Competition

ip5iPhone Launch Dates

Until recently, we'd been thinking the iPhone 5 would arrive in the August-September timeframe, with the date firming up around the mid-September period. This notion came from numerous sources, including evidence from AT&T and information shared with Fast Company by a source inside Apple.

But while fresh data says China's Pegatron has been contracted to deliver 10 million iPhone 5s for September, other than this, there's also been a lot of noise about an October launch timescale. And it's even seemed certain that Canada will get the new device on October 1st. If this latter is true, it would clash with Apple's recent habit of launching new devices in numerous territories at the same time (to keep sales up high and to quash gray market exports), and this could actually make the October date more believable rather than assuming a dual-date launch.

iPhone 5 Design

We've heard more and more about the iPhone 5 design over the months: At first we'd heard it may get an all-metal makeover, and then it seemed it may get a bigger screen and a slightly skinnier teardropped chassis. Now it seems the phone may be both taller and wider than the iPhone 4, which could hint that the edge-to-edge screen could even approach 4 inches. Leaked case designs from China, made to agree with an engineering prototype shared by Apple, seem to underline this fact.

But sources suggest the iPhone 5 will retain many of the features of the iPhone 4, with the upgrade being more cosmetic than many suspect.

Two iPhones?

Add the previous two sets of rumors together and you get two plausible launch windows, and two possible phone designs. This creates a lovely mix of rumors and leaks from Apple's supply chain that could be taken as proof the iPhone 5 is indeed coming in two varieties: A refreshed design, at the high end, and an iPhone 4-derived "lite" iPhone aimed at the cheaper pre-pay market. And that's exactly what we've been suspecting for ages.

iCloud Arrives, For Developers, With iWork In Tow

Over the last couple of days Apple's been rolling out some of the tools in its upcoming iCloud system to Apple developers, so they can test the system and get code ready to support it. The apps are characteristically elegant and eye-pleasing, as befits Apple's design ethic and intention of making this high-tech opportunity attractive and easy to use by even non-technical Apple clients. And in one maneuver, Apple's killed off any thinking that it would be ditching web-based apps--a handy access portal it had maintained for MobileMe, and which some rumors said would be going away.

Meanwhile, there're the first bits of evidence that iWork--Apple's business productivity suite--is also getting a serious cloud-based refresh. This could be welcome news to many Apple users, and can also be taken as another sign that Apple's very serious about expanding its enterprise business. This last bit is because an attempt to make iWork cloud-supported in a seamless, reliable and "it just works" kind of way pitches Apple against both Google and Microsoft's efforts at cloud-service business apps.

Is Apple Already Signing Up Content For A Netflix Rival?

We knew Apple was moving to a sort of streaming content model in its iTunes redesign, but now there's an intriguing rumor Apple has already got a number of deals in place with TV and movie content providers to offer something much more concrete: A Netflix-rivalling online movie and TV portal, coming alongside its iOS refresh, iTunes updates, and OS X Lion launch.

No Apple TV Update, But Apple Television Rumors

Seemingly in contradiction to Apple moving toward a Netflix-style TV service, some rumors are saying Apple's hobby project--the Apple TV--won't be upgraded with faster chips to bring it 1080p full HD powers or any sort of advanced app interfaces. At the same time, there's been more buzz about Apple's alleged plans to release its own-designed televisions. Possible? Sure--for both these ideas. But we think it's not too likely: Upgrading the Apple TV with a new A5 chip is an easy way to bump sales, and the television market is such a thorny one right now (with even big players struggling) that a full-on Apple Television would seem unlikely.

Chat about this news with Kit Eaton on Twitter and Fast Company too.

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