Why Apple Will Announce -- and Ship -- the iPhone 4G in June

Last Updated May 27, 2010 4:00 PM EDT

That Apple (AAPL) will announce the iPhone 4G on June 7 is a pretty open secret. But an interesting tidbit from Boy Genius Report suggests that the new product will be out in June, rather than Apple's usual July release. Although the usual launch window gives Apple significant marketing advantages, it doesn't have a choice this year because of the well-publicized unauthorized appearance of the new iPhone prototypes.

Apple's usual timing is a short lesson in just how practical and smart the company is, and how its competitors tend to miss what is important. The way most handset companies bring new products to market is to pre-announce far in advance, often at a big trade show, with shipment coming many months later. Contrast that to Apple, which makes a big splash in June with CEO Steve Jobs working the crowd, and then has product on shelves in July. One month to get people interested, whet the taste for a new piece of hardware, and then to satisfy them before their interest wavers and products from other vendors tempt them. In addition, the announcement and delivery timing is brilliant. Summer is generally slow in tech news. There's simply little going on that will compete with Apple's announcement.

However, this year Apple has a problem. When an Apple employee lost a prototype and Gizmodo paid thousands for a look, the clock started ticking. When people hear of a new model, they're far less likely to buy the old one. Apple likely already feels the sales impact of buyers who want the newest and latest.

By moving the actual shipment of the iPhone to June -- and very possibly mid-month -- Apple can shift part of what will be a strong upsurge in sales back to this quarter and offset what analysts might otherwise see as disappointing results. Apple is just as interested in maintaining stock price as any other company.

A DigiTimes analyst suggests that there is even an additional iPhone 4G model in its back pocket:

On a side note, Apple initiated the iPhone 4G project at the end of 2008. According to our sources, Apple actually has another product codenamed N91 for the project, which offers less change from previous iPhones compared with the N90. It's a parallel product to back up the N90 in case there are major delays due to significant modifications in casing, display resolution, digital camera support and so forth.
If true, it might also mean that Apple could release a "4G lite" version to enable earlier shipment and recover from the We-Heard-About-the-4G Blues.
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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.