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You may recall last year that Apple completely stumped us all. Based on mountains of coinciding rumors constantly flowing in over the course of 10 months or so, most of us were convinced that Apple indeed would announce the iPhone 5. After all, last year's model was the fifth-generation iPhone. It only made sense that they would name it iPhone 5.

We watched the announcement last September with bated breath, waiting, wishing, hoping the One More Thing would entail an entirely new, completely redesigned iPhone. However, rumors could not have been more wrong. The new phone turned out to be the lowly iPhone 4S, a slight improvement over the iPhone 4 from the previous year. It was certainly not the larger, teardrop iPhone we were hoping for.

Following the announcement, rumors of the larger, redesigned iPhone 5 spilled over into 2012. Despite no longer being the fifth-generation iPhone, some argued it would still be called the iPhone 5. Sequentially, it kind of makes sense. Others feel it could be the iPhone 6.

To add to the confusion, Apple pulled a fast one on everyone again in March. Everyone suspected the third-generation iPad would be dubbed the iPad 3, just as the second-generation was called the iPad 2. However, Apple decided to refer to it as "The new iPad." They completely dropped the number scheme and, presumably, every new model will be called "The new iPad" and references to specific models will be made by year, similarly to MacBooks. For example, I picked up my MacBook last year, so it is the MacBook Air 13-inch (2011). This year's iPad will be iPad (2012) come next year.

Although MacBooks and iPads are entirely separate product lines and, likewise, are treated differently than iPhones, many speculate that Apple may also drop the seemingly random iPhone numeric scheme no one has been able to decrypt. In fact, last week, I would have been willing to bet money on it just being called "iPhone" and have all but stopped referring to it as "iPhone 5."

Apple September 12 event invitation

Then Apple went and did it again. On Tuesday (while I was boarding a plane to New York – I actually started writing this then and am just now getting the chance to pick up where I left off), Apple sent out invitations to the September 12 press event, just as we had anticipated they would. But there was something special about this invitation. In the shadow of the 12 (indicating the date of the event) lies a faint and partial "5" shadow. There are a million things the number could reference, yet only one thing comes to mind: iPhone 5.

This invitation just goes to show how little we actually know about what goes on behind the scenes at 1 Infinite Loop. It could also show that Apple has a sense of humor. Seeing the media toss and turn over what its next product will be named, Apple does something it has never done before and taunts us in its sensibly clever invitation.

Oddly enough, I would not be at all surprised if Apple still ends up dropping the numeric scheme, calling it "The new iPhone" – making the "5" reference in the invitation just a little prank to rile up the journos. I caught a glimpse of Twitter before my plane departed and saw quite a few colleagues up in arms over the reference. I was a little conflicted myself. But I had another thought while I was on that short flight: "What if this is Apple trying to tell us we've been wrong all along?"

Think about it. I explained last month that none of these leaked parts or rumors add up. Apple has allegedly "doubled-down" on security since the passing of Steve Jobs, yet next-generation iPhone parts are flying all over the Internet? Last time I recall there being a legitimate Apple leak, someone's house got raided. Remember that? Gizmodo does.

I still believe Apple has been throwing us off their trail all along with fake parts, or ones from old prototypes that have been scrapped.

Maybe I'm off my rocker, looking way too far into what a small clue means. Maybe things are changing at Apple with its (relatively) new CEO. Or maybe, just maybe I'm right and we literally know nothing about what Apple has to unveil next week.

We'll all know soon enough. But in the meantime, let's have a little fun with the speculation. Get it all in while you can because next week we have to begin pondering what Apple will do in 2013. Sound off with your thoughts below. Is it the "iPhone 5"? Just "iPhone"? Are the leaked parts legitimate? Or will we see a radical redesign?

Image via 9to5 Mac


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