The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple will begin production of the next iPhone in the second quarter.
That's coming directly from the Dept. of the Rather Obvious, considering the annual launch cycle of the iPhone stands at around the third quarter, and Apple needs to add new stock to its inventory before hand in order to avoid shortfalls upon release.
The Journal adds a new nugget to the mix: the new iPhone will be visually "similar in size and shape" to the 4-inch screen iPhone 5, which has a thinner casing than previous iterations of the smartphone, suggesting the next iPhone may be an incremental update, like the iPhone 4S to the iPhone 4, rather than a major smartphone release.
Apple's release cycle tends to fall between June and September, opting for the latter months in the past few iterations, the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5, in order to attract far greater sales for the lucrative December holiday season. This being the time where sales are through the roof thanks to Christmas and other festivities.
Looking at Apple's historic hardware sales by quarter, the company's last two first-quarter results for iPhone sales have shot through the roof.
Take Q1 2012 — the first fiscal quarter after the iPhone 4S was released — we saw record sales amounting to 37.04 million iPhones sold. The same quarter a year later, Q1 2013, we saw record yet another record breaker for Apple in iPhone sales, amounting to 47.8 million iPhones.
Interestingly, the Journal also points to a "less expensive iPhone" that could be launched in the second half of this year, again towards a typical iPhone release date, using a different casing and colored shells for the device.
"Plans remain unclear," the publication says, despite Apple chief marketing chap Phil Schiller's insistence that the company focuses on profits and not "[pushing] a cheaper smartphone," despite a fluff from Reuters in the process. That said, Reuters backed down and watered down its story leaving the door open to more interpretation.
The bottom line: we don't know just yet — as is with anything Apple related pre-launch or announcement — but it makes sense if Apple wants to aggressively target China and India, like other smartphone makers are.