iPhone 5 release date: Will we see a summer or fall launch?

The site ibtimes.com has put forward an interesting theory regarding the launch of Apple’s next-gen smartphone.

Citing market research firm Gartner Inc., the site reports that Apple iPhones boomed last year, leading to a rise of 149 million units in smartphone sales in the fourth quarter of 2011.

These record sales have made the Cupertino tech giant the world’s top smartphone vendor in 2011.

However, Gartner estimates that interest in the iPhone 4S, Apple’s latest smartphone, will eventually fade away, generating a decrease in the company’s market share.

The research firm said, “Apple had an exceptional fourth quarter, selling 35.5 million smartphones to end users, a 121.4 percent increase year on year. Apple’s continued attention to channel management helped it take full advantage of the strong quarter to further close the gap with Samsung, which saw some inventory build up for its smartphone range. Apple’s strong performance will continue into the first quarter of 2012 as availability of the iPhone 4S widens. However, since Apple will not benefit from delayed purchases as it did in the fourth quarter of 2011, Gartner analysts expect its sales to decline quarter-on-quarter.”

Based on this theory, ibtimes.com speculates that the iPhone 4S’ gradual loss of popularity would eventually force Apple to plan an earlier launch for its next iPhone.

Despite the initial grumbling at the launch of the iPhone 4S in October 2011 for lacking the marvel that many expected to see in the iPhone 5, the end of the year proved very favorable for the sale of Apple products, which resulted in major financial profits for the fourth quarter of 2011.

In the last three months of 2011, the company’s profit reached 13.06 billion dollars, double than the previous year. The results were boosted by Apple’s strong sales of the iPhone 4S during the holiday season.

However, despite its commercial success, Apple’s last smartphone may not be as successful as its predecessors, the ibtimes.com writes, simply because it’s an upgrade to the iPhone 4. In addition, the device lacks 4G-LTE connection and its battery issues have proven to be an irritating drawback.

Consequently, the interest in the iPhone 4S will gradually wear out, prompting Apple to get back to basics and plan a summer launch, in line with the company’s iPhone launch history, instead of the rumored fall release date.

A couple of months ago, reports surfaced stating that the iPhone 5 could be released on October 5, 2012, to commemorate Steve Jobs’ death. The late Apple CEO was closely involved with the iPhone 5 in the last days of his life and followed all the steps of the production.

Other rumors pointing to a summer launch appeared in late January, when an anonymous source at Apple’s China-based supplier Foxconn, cited by 9to5Mac, claimed that several samples of the future smartphone, each sporting a slightly different design, have entered production.

The insider also shared that the iPhone 5 could be launched during Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference set for this summer.

In addition, earlier this month, Daiwa Securities, an Asian financial services firm, provided a screenshot of the leaked calendar from San Francisco’s Moscone Center, hinting that the event could take place between June 10 and June 15, thus narrowing down the dates of a possible iPhone 5 launch.

Spring 2012 was also seen as a possible launch date as that is when LTE technology was rumored to be available.

Will Strauss, president of wireless chip market research firm Forward Concepts, said Apple is likely to release the iPhone 5 in spring 2012, when LTE chipsets will be available for thin smartphones.

“They’re saving iPhone 5 for the LTE version and that won’t be out until next spring,” Strauss said.

Moreover, back in April, CEO Tim Cook said that the “first generation of LTE chipsets force a lot of design compromises.”

Based on all these rumors and speculation, do you believe that a summer release for the iPhone 5 is closer to reality than a fall launch?