Was the iPhone 5 Delayed to Accommodate at&t and Verizon’s 4G Plans?

As reported by iOSnoops earlier this week, for the first time in four years, Apple will not introduce a new iPhone at its yearly Worldwide Developers Conference in June. The move was unexpected, as over the last months, most rumors seemed to indicate that the device was on track for a summer launch: several pictures of final iPhone 5 parts were leaked, we heard that prototypes were ready, and cases for the device are already being built by third parties. In other words, the delay seems to be a purely business-driven decision, rather than a technical one. Three main factors could explain why the device will not hit store shelves before the end of the year: the white iPhone 4, the Verizon iPhone, and the availability of 4G LTE. Given that Apple isĀ about to launch a white version of the iPhone 4, Apple would not make the mistake of releasing a new version of an older generation iPhone only weeks before the next generation of the device is introduced to the public. And the longer it takes Apple to release the white iPhone 4, the later the iPhone 5 will come out. Moreover, the Verizon iPhone was released barely two months ago, and launching a new iPhone 5 during the June timeframe would most likely anger a slew of iPhone users who made the switch. To avoid a Verizon iPhone users revolt, Apple will likely wait until fall, or even winter, to release the next generation iPhone. But here’s the real kicker: in June, only a handful of cities across the country will have 4G LTE. Both Verizon and at&t are working double shift to deploy their next generation networks, but a nationwide build-out takes time, and launching an LTE compatible iPhone in June could lead to a huge backlash, as most users would be forced to use the new phone on older and slower 3G networks. As a result, at&t, Verizon and Apple might simply have decided to delay the launch of the device until the third or even the fourth quarter of this year, to give the wireless carriers an additional four to six months to roll out LTE in most major U.S. markets. While the decision was most likely made to accommodate U.S. wireless carriers, it should also be welcomed by international wireless providers, as the U.S. is currently leading the race to 4G LTE, while most international carriers have barely started their respective 4G roll outs. [Picture: Fast Company]