iPhone 5 launch expected on 4 October
(Guardian Web Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Apple is expected to introduce the next version of its iPhone on 4 October, when the new chief executive Tim Cook will demonstrate his grip on the company after having taken over from Steve Jobs in August.
The unveiling is also expected by many to include a simpler version of last year's iPhone 4 – which has become the best-selling smartphone in the world since its launch in June 2010 – which will allow Apple to attack China's huge market.
Cook's appearance would be his first in public since he took over from Jobs, who has been on medical leave since January but fronted three public events for the company until his resignation.
Cook ran the company's day-to-day operations during Jobs's previous medical absences in 2004 and 2009, and for the first half of this year. He has been at Apple since 1998 and is credited with turning its manufacturing and supply operations around.
Apple did not return a request for comment ahead of publication.
Internet rumours have suggested that the new model will have a slightly larger screen than the existing iPhone 4, and that it may include an NFC (near field communication) chip which would enable it to be used with payment services such as Google's Wallet service, which launched in the US earlier this week.
That would allow it to compete with Google's Nexus S phone, released at the end of December, which contains an NFC chip, and other forthcoming phones from handset makers.
News of the anticipated iPhone release, which was reported by John Paczkowski of the news website AllThingsD, helped push up Apple's stock in early trading in New York, where it gained more than $7 (£4.40) or 2%, having already risen by 10% compared to the Nasdaq index on which it is listed in the past week.
The launch is surrounded by secrecy, with component makers in the Far East who supply parts and assemble the new iPhone reluctant to leak any details about their work for fear of losing contracts with Apple. Testimony in a recent court case in the US detailed how a Samsung employee gave details of screen sizes to US analysts ahead of the release of the iPad; Apple cut Samsung's contract soon afterwards.
Valued at $387.1bn, Apple is presently the biggest firm by market capitalisation on the US stock market, having swapped places with the previous largest, the oil company Exxon, since mid-August.
Expectation of a revised version of the iPhone, which is expected to be called the iPhone 5, have been buzzing around the internet for months. Analysts and observers also claim Apple will introduce a low-end smartphone to grab a wider market share from rival handset makers offering Google's Android mobile operating system, which is now the best-selling mobile OS worldwide with around 40% market share on new handsets.
Some speculation suggests Cook might unveil a "phone" which leaves out voice capabilities but includes 3G data capabilities to replace its high-end iPod Touch, which presently has no phone capabilities but offers the other functionality of an iPhone, such as a touch screen and app downloads.
Programmers building apps for the forthcoming version of the iPhone software, iOS 5, were warned on Sunday that Apple is wiping old backups made using test versions of that software on Thursday. Many have taken that to mean a final version is imminent. That is the software that will run on any revised iPhone, so the two would certainly be released at the same time.
About 24m iPhones were sold in the second quarter of the year, making Apple the biggest seller of smartphones worldwide, ahead of Korea's Samsung and Finland's Nokia. It is also the biggest mobile phone company both by revenue and profit, having passed the former leader Nokia there in the second quarter.
(c) 2011 Guardian Newspapers Limited.
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