iPhone 5 rumors: Steve Jobs worked until the end on Apple’s “next product”, says Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son

After learning over a million people wrote to express their condolences, Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son recalled an anecdote that shows Jobs’ dedication to his company during an interview conducted last weekend by the U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos.

Son said, “I visited Apple for the announcement of the iPhone 4S [at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California ]. When I was having a meeting with Tim Cook, he said, ‘Oh Masa, sorry I have to quit our meeting.’ I said, ‘Where are you going?’ He said, ‘My boss is calling me.’ That was the day of the announcement of the iPhone 4S. He said that Steve is calling me because he wants to talk about their next product. And the next day, he died.”

While Son didn’t mention any specific product Jobs was working on, recent reports suggest that he may have been concentrating on Apple’s next smartphone, the iPhone 5.

Not long ago, Rodman & Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar wrote that the next iPhone represents “the last project that Steve Jobs was intimately involved with from concept to final design. For that reason … this product will establish the high water mark for iPhone volumes.”

The analyst added that from the concept to the final design Jobs followed “closely” all the steps, which should make it “cult classic” at the time of its release, probably in the summer of 2012.

Son continued, “Even one day before he passed away, the first subject he wanted to call Tim Cook about…he wanted to talk about the next product… That’s the kind of spirit a true entrepreneur would continue to have until they die. He was very sick, very ill. But the announcement of their newest product made him live longer. Physically he could have died much earlier. But his passion, his love for his own company and dream, about the next products, that made him energized.”

In the research note, Kumar also said the iPhone 5 will likely be released in the summer of 2012.

He believes that the iPhone 5 will adopt a thinner design and a bigger screen while maintaining the size of the iPhone 4S with the technology 4G-LTE.