Supplier orders already in for over four million new 2009 iPhones?!

A recent China Commercial Times report on Apple’s next generation iPhones includes the suggestion that an order is already in for more than four million units(!). But how does this report fit into the overall picture of the 2009 iDevices — and what do experienced rumor-mongers say about the other details in the CCT article?

Although the number — four million units — is consistent with previous insider reports, very little else about the China Times’ reporting makes very much sense according to anyone that Rumors has spoken to.

Whether “insiders” or simply fellow rumor-mongers playing the great game of Grapevine Telephone, based on first-hand knowledge, internal documents or just deductive reasoning consensus based on publicly available information…..a very consistent tone of doubt and contradiction has emerged about several things in the CT/CCT article.

Notably, the iPhones it posits: Firstly, a model “specifically for the China market.”

This may be based on another, older rumor considered far more likely: a slightly modified version of the low-end 2009 iPhone intended for global “overseas” markets as a whole, i.e. for use with international service providers which may have issues with the model designed to work with AT&T (and those networks which work with essentially the same, standard 3G/EDGE tech). But otherwise, we have no reason to believe such a specific model of iPhone exists — and in fact there are several insiders who have specifically contra-indicated it to a fairly high degree of certainty.

Time and again, we have confirmed through countless means the notion that there will be four new iDevices this summer; two iPhones and two non-phone devices — either two iPod Touch models, or one new iPod and an entirely new type of iDevice such as an enlarged “iTablet” in the 10-inch range….as many have speculated, perhaps something more in the “Netbook” direction.

All of these iDevice variants, and more, have been prototyped over the past several years and as ever, the shipping products one sees in the Apple Store are like the tip of a great R&D iceberg that only a few people ever see the entire shape of.

So suspending disbelief regarding other details of the article, what about its perhaps most significant claim: that the main difference between the two new iPhones will be the separation between 3G & EDGE data connectivity, with little else actually changed from existing devices?!

This too is highly inconsistent with what both insiders and the general grapevine consensus have been saying for at least a full year now. No matter how much room is left for doubt about what our sources have to say or our own particular analysis of the publicly known information, details of the 3.0 operating system, et cetera….we simply don’t believe that this year’s new iDevices will represent such an anemic and downright boring shift.

It’s hard to even call something like than an “upgrade,” no matter how many little tweaks it might include. To follow the description that the China/Commercial Times gives us of the 2009 iPhones, many things we already know to be true….including a greatly enhanced imaging sensor, video recording and editing capabilities, Apple’s acquisition of PA Semiconductor (a key developer of advanced processors on the same ARM platform iDevices currently use) last year and many others….just don’t fit at all.

Even if the fruits of PA Semi’s labors will only show up in a single new iDevice (say, Apple’s answer to the Netbook) this year….there’s still just far too much that doesn’t add up about the picture that CCT tries to paint in this case.

Regardless of their relatively decent past track record describing in at least general terms future Apple products through the many local component suppliers that have relationships with Infinite Loop, and with all due respect to our colleagues in Asia, we believe that China Times has it just about dead wrong this time.

They are probably right about the general size of the recent massive componentry order for the new 2009 iDevices, the timing of which further confirms our belief that they will be announced at this year’s WWDC (June 8-12) and ship shortly thereafter…..but as to the rest, apparently we’ll see in June.

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