Apple will be announcing their quarterly earnings tomorrow, and no doubt it will be another strong quarter. But it seems likely that iPhone sales will taper off as people anticipate the new model expected to be announced in September. According to the latest rumors, manufacturing has begun. A report on DigiTimes says that industry sources claim that Pegatron has begun production of the iPhone 5. I hope that means we'll be seeing some leaked photos. The consensus among the rumors is that it'll have a 4-inch display, LTE for fast data speeds, a smaller dock connector, a unibody aluminum design with inlaid glass on the back, and a repositioned front-facing camera, among other changes. Although DigiTimes isn't always accurate, if Apple is indeed to release a new model in September or October, production would typically need to begin about now. The report also says that Pegatron has begun production of "a new version of iPad." Hopefully that refers to the rumored "iPad mini."
In addition, the latest rumor is that the new phone will be launched on Friday, September 21. The source: a French blog citing a source within a large accessory manufacturer in China. You can read more on Cult of Mac. It's hard to know how much credibility this rumor has, since the blog isn't that well known.
Whenever it arrives, the demand for the next iPhone is expected to be huge. A consumer survey conducted in June and released earlier this month reported that 14% of those surveyed said that they were very likely to buy the iPhone 5, while 17% said somewhat likely. That may not seem like a lot, but it's significantly larger than the results of the same survey a year ago. Last year 10% said very likely and 11.5% said somewhat likely. The result: the iPhone 4S sales were through the roof. Based on this survey, the next iPhone sales should be about a third higher than the iPhone 4S. As before, the limiting factor will likely be the number of units that Apple can manufacture. It's simply quite difficult to make as many phones as Apple's customers want, and Apple will probably spend a month or two catching up with the demand, as usual. You can read more on AppleInsider.
One constraint on supply could be the new screen, which will reportedly use in-cell technology. That means that instead of having separate panels for the touch panel and the LCD display, the touch panel will be integrated into the LCD display. The result is that the phone can be thinner and lighter, with sharper images. But sometimes new technologies are harder to produce in mass quantities, limiting production. Apple's suppliers likely have most of the bugs worked out, though.
Reuters is reporting that while Apple's quarterly earnings report tomorrow will likely be strong, many analysts don't expect another stellar quarter like the previous one, simply because a lot of people are waiting to buy the new iPhone 5 rather than going for the iPhone 4S. Their contracts are up, and they've been waiting to jump ship. And many are sensibly waiting for the latest model.