Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhone Launch: What About Summer?

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Apple Inc. (AAPL)Last week, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook uttered two words that have caused quite a ruckus among Street analysts following the Mac maker. Perhaps it was an inadvertent slip. Perhaps it was just an overgeneralization. Perhaps investors are simply overanalyzing Cook’s prepared remarks.

How much should investors read into Cook’s comment that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has exciting new hardware, software, and services to introduce “this fall?”

Forget fall
Cook’s hints have been broadly interpreted throughout the Street that new iPhones aren’t due out until later this year, contrary to prior rumors that Apple was targeting a June or July launch. That assumption has subsequently led to a slew of downward estimate revisions for the June quarter, since Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) always sees a slowdown ahead of rumored product launches.

Well, perhaps Apple was just being coy. A purported carrier pricing document has leaked out of Japan’s KDDI that suggests that the iPhone 5S may in fact launch in July, following pre-orders beginning on June 20. The pricing sheet indicates that the new flagship model will carry a fingerprint reader and beefed up 13-megapixel image sensor — in line with what investors are already expecting on the feature side.

It’s a relatively sketchy rumor, but certainly teases the possibility that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) may have been able to pull the iPhone product cycle forward to fend off the competition. Supply chain rumblings suggest that Apple is still having some manufacturing difficulties integrating the fingerprint sensor, which likely remains the wild card. If Apple can overcome to technical hurdles, then the company would probably be able to orchestrate a summer launch.

There was also another possible clue that an earlier iPhone might be in the cards. Audio codec supplier Cirrus Logic, Inc. (NASDAQ:CRUS) preannounced some gloomy figures earlier this month, which caused both Cirrus and Apple to tank. However, Cirrus’ language suggested that Apple was already migrating to a newer component, which could theoretically hint at an earlier refresh.

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