GearLive’s Andru Edwards thinks that the new iPhone–let’s call it the iPhone Video–will not only be announced on Monday but available in Apple Stores the same day. It’s not entirely clear what prompted him to say this–he headlines it as a prediction and then says it’s “likely” to happen, then simply states without hedging “Yes, you will be able to pick up the next version of the iPhone on Monday, if you get to an Apple Store before they sell out.” He says that he thinks iPhone OS 3.0 is ready to go and that Apple would like to put a crimp in Palm and Sprint’s release of the Pre on Saturday. And then he talks about “sources” who say “the stars are in alignment” for Apple Stores to have the iPhone Video on Monday.
In other words, it’s not entirely clear whether his story is based on wishful thinking, attempted logical deduction, investigative reporting, or some combination thereof. In any case, it seems like an extremely unlikely scenario to me. Here’s why:
1. FCC approval. The iPhone Video will have to get it, and it’s really hard to keep the phone secret once it’s started that process. By announcing the phone on Monday but not shipping it instantly, Apple gives itself a buffer to get the phone approved.
2. iPhonemania. With both the first iPhone and the iPhone 3G, Apple created tech-hype history by whipping gadgethounds into such a frenzy that throngs lined up at the crack of dawn to buy phones. It’s likely that the iPhone Video won’t create quite the same madness–it’s neither the first iPhone nor the first 3G one–but I’d think that Apple would like to stoke some initial crazy excitement. If the phone’s simply available the first day anybody knows about it, it can’t. (That would be like releasing a summer blockbuster movie that nobody knows about for sure beforehand.)
3. It’s not just about the Apple Store. Even if we assume for the moment that the iPhone Video will debut in the U.S. only, the phone will be for sale in Apple Stores, AT&T stores, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart. Presumably those last three merchants would be nonplussed if the phone was only available in Apple’s own outlets on the day of announcement. And while it’s not utterly inconceivable that all the iPhone sellers are ready to put the phone on sale on Monday, it would be an impressive achievement to keep the phone secret with so many folks involved in preparations already.
4. Apple doesn’t need to to release it on Monday to respond to the Pre. Even if you accept the notion that Apple is worried enough about the Pre to think it needs to plan strategy to respond to its release, it doesn’t need to have iPhones on store shelves on Monday. Anyone who’s completely entranced by the Pre will try to buy one this weekend; Monday is too late to prevent that. But most people who might buy a Pre won’t do so this weekend–they will, very sensibly, give it some thought and see what their other options are, and they already know that it’s dead certain that a new-and-improved iPhone will be available soon. If Apple announces a new iPhone on Monday, it’ll surely be a matter of weeks at most before it goes on sale. Virtually nobody who really wants an iPhone Video will opt for the Pre instead simply because it’s available a bit sooner.
I’m not saying the chances of GearLive’s prophecy coming true are zero. Just that if it is true, it’ll be one of the more startling things Apple has ever done…