I?m thinking it makes more sense for Apple to hold two events. First, an iPhone event, focused solely on the new iPhone and iOS 6. Then, the iPhone ships nine days later, and there?s another wave of iPhone-focused attention as the reviews come out. Then, in the first or second week of October, Apple holds its traditional ?music event?, exactly along the lines of the events at which they?ve been debuting new iPods for the last decade. (Maybe more of an ?iTunes event? than just ?music event?, given the rise of other media like TV shows, movies, and books.1)
Jim Dalrymple of The Loop clearly thinks Gruber's on to something. Both Gruber and Dalrymple have helped set the standard for Apple reporting, and have incredibly good track records, so if they even hint at it, I'm going to look into it.
iMore first learned that Apple was going ahead with the iPad mini product back in May, that it would use the iPad interface, and that they were targeting a $200-$250 price point and October launch window. At the end of July, iMore learned that Apple was planning to hold an event on September 12, and that Apple would use that event to announce both the iPhone 5 and iPad mini. Earlier this month, alongside Seth Weintraub of 9to5Mac and Gruber, we reported on what the iPad mini will look and feel like.
But would Apple want it to share the stage with the iPhone 5, or vice versa?
The original iPhone announcement at Macworld 2007 shared the stage with a rehashed announcement for the original Apple TV. The iPhone 3G announcement at WWDC 2008 shared the stage with Snow Leopard and Mobile Me. The iPhone 3GS announcement at WWDC 2009 shared the stage with new MacBook Pros. The iPhone 4 announcement at WWDC 2010, however, didn't share the stage at all. The iPhone 4S announcement didn't even take place at WWDC -- it bumped the annual fall iTunes and iPod event and was given the important pre-holiday spotlight.
Whether there was an issue with Verizon, something to do with iOS 5, iCloud, and/or Siri timelines, or some confluence of reasons, Apple moved what had been a September event to October. And, rather than hold two fall events as Apple had sometimes done with the Mac, Apple held only a single event. They did, however, tack nominal iPod updates onto the iPhone 4S announcement.
So if Apple wanted to hold one event again in the fall of 2012, and they were ready to go in September, and they wanted to hit the market with the full shock and awe of not only an entirely updated iOS device lineup, but an entirely new iOS device -- of an Apple at the height of its powers -- then they certainly could do so. They could blot out the sun on anyone else's fall announcements. And they could arguably get the best of both worlds with a unified introduction followed by a staged rollout, with reviews and new iPhones appearing on September 21, and reviews and the iPad mini appearing in October as scheduled.
But Gruber's argument makes a lot of sense. Both are incredibly important announcements and products for Apple. New iPhones, to date, have sold as much as every previous generation iPhone combined. The iPhone alone makes more money than all of Microsoft. The iPad mini is meant to one day sell in the hundreds of millions as well. It's the future of mainstream computing.
Here's the thing though -- not only hasn't Apple announced an iPhone 5 or iPad mini yet, they haven't announced an iPhone 5 or iPad mini (or iPod) event or events. There's a reason for that. There's a reason Apple waits until the last possible minute to announce anything.
Secrecy is pure upside for Apple. It helps with marketing and competition, but most importantly, it allows them to be tremendously flexible. They can choose which iPhone prototype they're going with mere months before launch, they can choose to pull cameras from iPods right before they're announced, and they can choose between having one event and two events literally up until the minute they finish prepping the first event.
Given what happened when September 12 became rumored, and everyone from Microsoft/Nokia to Verizon/Motorola to Amazon rushed to schedule pre-emptive events, it's hard to argue the value of the strategy.
As of May, 2012, iMore heard Apple was planning the iPad mini for October. As of July, 2012, we heard the announcement had been moved up to the iPhone event rumored for September 12. It may well have been moved back to October, or it may still be in flux, with Apple watching the market and weighing their options.
We'll find out soon.