Summary:

Every summer since 2007, Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) has introduced a new iPhone. It’s looking like this year is going to be a little different.

Apple iPhone 4 and Steve Jobs at WWDC 2010
photo: gdgt

Every summer since 2007, Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) has introduced a new iPhone. It’s looking like this year is going to be a little different.

Almost like clockwork, Apple launched the iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 4 between mid-June and mid-July the last four years, often after previewing them at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, which will once again be held in early June in San Francisco. But it sounds like a software-only affair is in store this year for the conference, according to several reports over the weekend and Monday, which puts the likely release of the new software and hardware later in 2011.

Apple has typically previewed a new iOS release in the spring prior to launching a new device and making the software available, which makes sense because developers need time to understand what’s coming as to make sure their apps run well on the new release or to create new apps that take advantage of new features. It seems that the whole process has been moved forward in 2011, with the preview now expected to take place in June and the unveiling later in the year.

It’s not clear what led to the change: such as whether or not the new release ran into delays or whether Apple is deliberately holding it back as to have something new for the holiday season as opposed to midsummer. Apple still sees a huge kick in iPod sales every year in the fourth quarter, but iPad sales were particularly strong last holiday season and it might have decided to shift everything iOS-related forward as to take advantage of that well-known trend in consumer electronics sales.

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