The closer Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference 2009 gets, the louder the next-gen iPhone buzz grows. In the week since last issue's editorial, the question of whether or not June's WWDC event will yield a new iPhone now seems more like a foregone conclusion--for starters, AppleInsider reports AT&T is running low on the current iPhone 3G model, and customer service representatives are telling subscribers they don't expect the operator to restock. (For what it's worth, an AT&T spokesperson has denied the iPhone shortage claims, adding the customer rep supplied "incorrect information.") Then last week T-Mobile Austria briefly posted a website placeholder advertising a 32 GB iPhone--as Engadget points out, T-Mobile Germany made a similar gaffe two years ago, promoting the iPhone just prior to officially announcing it would sell the device. And now the Daring Fireball blog, which boasts a superlative track record when it comes to reading the Apple tea leaves, says it would "wager heavily" on a new iPhone for commercial release in July, speculating the device will feature roughly double the CPU horsepower and an improved video-capable camera.
The latest flurry of speculation and insider dish all seems to line up with iPhone specs and screenshots posted earlier this month on the Chinese web forum WeiPhone.com and later translated into English on sites including MacRumors.com. That evidence points to a new iPhone that will feature 600 MHz CPU speed (up from 400 MHz), 256 MB of RAM (up from 128 MB), a digital compass and FM receiver, and a 3.2 megapixel camera with auto-focus--no significant changes in the smartphone's battery life, touchscreen or external casing are expected. (Additional confirmation that the new iPhone won't offer an external redesign: An icon set buried within the device framework for iPhone SDK beta 5 and discovered by a member of the MacTalk forums, depicting a design fundamentally similar to the current smartphone model.)
But perhaps the most compelling argument in favor of a WWDC iPhone launch has nothing to do with leaked specs, operator mix-ups or educated guesses. Instead, it has everything to do with Apple's competitive fire. Last week, Sprint confirmed it will release the hotly-anticipated Palm Pre smartphone on June 6... just two days before WWDC 2009 kicks off. It seems inconceivable Apple would allow a rival device to divert media attention from the WWDC stage, let alone a device with as much pre-release hype as the Pre. So of course Apple will introduce a new iPhone at WWDC--Palm just guaranteed it. -Jason