expect delays

By now you may have heard the swirling rumors that WWDC will be dedicated solely to software this year. That would mean no sexy new iPhone hardware at the keynote, possibly leaving that for the iPod’s fall event.

Apple has always been very tight-lipped about its new hardware but historically quite predictable with the dates. September is iPods, there’s usually an October Mac release, and then a spring iPad. The WWDC keynote in June has been wholly about the iPhone ever since its release, but it looks like that’s about to change.

This predictability of Apple’s annual release schedule means that I would discount this rumor if it was just anyone reporting it. However, the initial source is none other than Jim Dalrymple, who probably has the best record of anyone in the tech sphere. I have near-absolute confidence in his predictions, and it seems like the other heavy hitters agree. Gruber, TUAW, and MacRumors are buying it, so I’d call this as fact.

But why? iPhone buyers expect a new one every summer, and Android is spitting out new phones every week. There are quite a few ideas: Apple might be off-schedule with either iOS 5 or the hardware design, or it might want to de-emphasize the aging iPod line and rejuvenate the increasingly blasé September event. My personal theory is Lion. Leopard’s release date was 6 months later than usual, most likely due to iPhone development. Now, the opposite has happened with the Back to the Mac initiative. Apple focuses its efforts very intensely, bringing developers from all areas to work on a single product until it’s done. With such a major OS X update in the works, there simply might not be enough talent to go around right now.

But does it qualify as a “delay” when Apple never announced a ship date or even hinted at such a product? We all know it’s coming, but obviously no one knows the exact date. It doesn’t look like Apple’s internal schedule has slipped more than might be expected just before another large product release. Seems like tech writers need a better word for Apple’s internal schedule, since no one knows anything for certain except Steve Jobs.

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