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iShocker!

It's a testament to the power of Apple that a mere invitation to an event can trigger apoplexy across the blogosphere because of what it doesn't mention. But that's what happened last night, when Apple sent out invitations to its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June.

As predicted, Apple said it would be showing off the new version of iOS, the software that powers the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. And, as predicted, it said it wouldn't be launching iOS 5 at the conference, just offering a preview. This is all in line with what we were hearing yesterday.

The invitation also promised a 'preview' of the next version of Mac OS, Lion. That also makes sense, given that it was first shown off last autumn and must be nearly ready. And given that Lion brings several tricks from iOS to the Mac, it makes sense to show them off together.

But what's striking is what Apple didn't mention - the iPhone.

You see, the original iPhone was announced at WWDC in 2007. The iPhone 3G was announced at WWDC in 2008. The 3GS... well, you get the idea. Every WWDC for four years has seen us presented with a new iPhone. But this year, it looks like, nope.

Why? The fact that iOS 5 isn't ready doesn't seem like much of a reason for a delay. After all, the iPad launched months before the dedicated iOS 4.2 software was ready for it.

It may simply be that the iPhone 5 isn't ready. After all, it's reportedly being 'completely redesigned'.

But there's another possibility. A few months ago tech blogger John Gruber predicted that the iPad 3 would come out just a few months after the iPad 2, in September. His reasoning was that it made sense to align its release with the traditional September release of new iPods.

But what if it's the iPhone which Apple wants to switch to a September release cycle? That would get the hugely popular tech out in time for Christmas; it would catch back-to-school and off-to-college markets; and it would enable the iPod Touch, which is always upgraded to a similar spec to the iPhone, to launch at the same time. Mind you, that itself could have disadvantages, as it could 'cannibalise' iPhone sales.

Can you tell we're speculating? The truth is, officially no-one even knows there is an iPhone 5, let alone when it'll be released. But it sure looks like it won't be in June.

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