Monday, June 27, 2011, 02:00 pm PT (05:00 pm ET)
Apple supply chain points to "iPhone 4S" in Sept., iPad 3 prototype in early 2012A second investment research firm on Monday cited sources in Taiwan as indicating that Apple's fifth-generation iPhone will hit the market early in the third quarter and also did its part to pour cold water on rumors of an iPad 3 launch prior to next year and a low-cost iPhone in 2011.
iPhone 4S by early October
Pointing to "recent Apple supply chain checks," FBR Capital Markets analyst Craig Berger said production of the company's fifth-generation iPhone has come into view for component suppliers "like Broadcom, Qualcomm, and Omnivision," each of which are indicating "a late September or early October" manufacturing ramp for the handset.
In a note to clients on the matter, Berger identified the new iPhone as going by the code name "N94" and indicated that his sources have referred to the device under the presumed marketing name "iPhone 4S," which would suggest the handset will arrive as an evolutionary upgrade to the existing iPhone 4 rather than a radical redesign like the ones that took place during the transition from the original iPhone to the iPhone 3G and from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4.
No low-cost iPhone model
Berger, who is placing bets on Apple introducing the new handset during its annual postLabor Day media event in the first half of September, added that his sources "see no near-term plans for a low-end iPhone for emerging markets, or a new iPhone in a transparent case."
First iPad 3 prototype expected early in 2012
Additionally, the analyst pointed to conversations with the same supply chain contacts in reporting that Apple has been "evaluating various touchscreen displays" for its third-generation iPad.
Thought he acknowledged conjecture and speculation over the possibility that such a device could launch later this year, he said his intelligence suggests that the company's progress with display manufacturers indicates a prototype of the next iPad won't be ready until early 2012, implying an announcement would again likely come in the spring.
"This should squarely put to rest any debate about a 2011 launch of the iPad 3 — after all, Apple is severely supply constrained on the iPad 2, and it is by far the best-performing and functioning tablet in the world," the analyst wrote.
Mixed opinions on low-cost iPhone
Berger is the second analyst for a major investment research firm to issued a report in the past 24 hours citing sources in Taiwan regarding a September launch of a fifth-generation iPhone.
Late Sunday evening, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Hubery pointed to recent meetings with unnamed individuals in the region in boldly stating that, "Apples next iPhone will begin production in mid to late August and ramp aggressively" into the calendar fourth quarter.
Unlike Berger, however, she wouldn't completely discount rumors of a low-cost iPhone, stating instead that Apple is forecasting a large iPhone unit increase in 2012 "on the back of new products and potentially lower price points."
Various major news outlets reported this spring that Apple is planning a cheaper iPhone model, which analysts believe would help the company make gains in emerging and prepaid mobile markets.
For his part in the matter, Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore proclaimed in his own research report Monday that "It's time for a mid-range iPhone," saying he believes Apple will offer a lower-end iPhone priced between $300 and $500 when paired with a pre-paid voice offering come September.
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