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Last time China Ontrade said that it had an iPhone component early on in the development process (for the 3GS back then), it turned out to be totally true. In fact, there were teardowns of the handset that clearly showed it in the build. Now, the same company’s claiming it has some hardware for the iPhone’s next iteration.

Normally, something like this would be firmly situated in rumor territory, but given C.O.’s now-verified track record, this recent assertion has become more interesting. However it’s not the part itself that’s exciting (the company calls it the iPhone 4 Generation Midboard); it’s the fact that this seems like a way, way early component leak.

Generally iPhone launches happen in the summer. And Apple’s items, like other phone makers’, tend to be built nearer to launch (to incorporate last-minute tweaks and ensure manufacturers’ supply-chain flow). Given that we’re nowhere near summer 2010 yet, how does a vendor get its hands on a part this early?

This, my friends, is the true object of speculation: Is it actually a ridiculously, incredulously early appearance? Not likely. No one has parts ready eight months before a release. That’s leading some people to wonder if it hints at something bigger — like a moved-up release (or at least announcement) for the next-gen iPhone.

[Pause]

Let’s take a moment to absorb that: “Early,” “moved-up,” “release” and “next-gen iPhone.”

Gentle readers, you can’t tell from this writing, but even as I type this, my eyes are popped open wide and my jaw is on the floor. While I don’t buy this completely, the mere fact that this is a topic of conjecture (based on something other than a fanboy claim) is enough to send tingles up my spine.

If it were going to happen, the holidays would be an ideal time. But that seems totally crazy. Or is it?

When Gizmodo posted about Phil Schiller stating there wouldn’t be any more Apple products this year beyond what’s been announced, they were corrected by Apple itself. Seriously. Cupertino contacted the blog and provided a specific quote to publish: Not that there would be no more Apple products, but that "the holiday lineup is set." (Note: “Set,” but not announced, as some hopefuls are pointing out.)

And industry pundits don’t necessarily think this “early launch” theory is so far out there. The key, they say, rests with one simple word: ANDROID. The recent explosion of this OS across multiple carriers has now made inroads to a mass market of consumers.

It’s even evident here on PhoneDog. While my forte may be the iPhone, I’ve been sort of moonlighting as an unofficial junior Android editor around here due to the overwhelming amount of news, rumors, device announcements and launches that’s come out for the platform. Gone are the days of a single clunky handset on a lone carrier offering a proto OS for mostly open-source nerds. Android is growing up nicely, and the vehicles to deliver it are getting pretty stunning.

Dare I say it? If I ever leave the iPhone, it will likely be for an Android device. And that’s exactly the kind of “mindshare” that probably has Apple reevaluating its modus operandi.

But — and I can’t stress this enough — an accelerated launch might be a tempting thought, but it has not been confirmed. While based on a leak from a source that’s been proven right in the past, it is still just a theory. It just happens to be one that people are watching pretty closely right now.

Care to make any guesses about whether this will pan out or not?


Via: China Ontrade, Gizmodo


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