The evidence, offhand comments and rumor mill are all pointing to a next generation iPhone in September.
First, BGR reports that AT&T is prepping for a September launch of the iPhone 5. MacRumors also noted that Apple's retail stores are staffing up for early September.
These rumors could be dismissed if it weren't for comments from key executives in the iPhone food chain.
Let's start at the top. Last week, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said during the company's earnings conference call:
As we announced at WWDC, we have a lot going on in the fall with the introduction of iOS 5 and iCloud. We also have a future product transition that we are not good to talk about today, and these things will impact our September quarter. We remain very confident in our business, our new product pipeline and our momentum.
Obviously, if this new product is going to affect the September quarter a new device is going to land in the early part of the month---a time that will be just enough to freeze sales of current generation products.
Oppenheimer also projected lower gross margins for the September quarter. Here again was a product reference.
We expect about two-thirds of this decline to be driven by different product mix. And we expect the remainder to be due to the loss of leverage on the lower sequential revenue, the cost of a future product transition, a full quarter of the back-to-school promotion.
Meanwhile, Verizon new CEO Lowell McAdam said that the company expects a new iPhone to juice smartphone sales.
We don’t know when the next one is going to come out. You will have to ask Apple that. But we expect that probably sometime in the fall, and I think you will see a significant jump there when we get to that point.