Rumour Mill: Apple iPhone 5 launch dates swirl around Europe

Fever ahead of the expected launch of Apple's iPhone 5 continues unabated in Europe, with two UK mobile operators reported to have "accidentally" leaked details about the devices and planned release dates, and analyst speculation claiming the latest Apple offering will be even more popular than the iPhone 4.

According to a report in CNET, an online product page for the Vodafone Sure Signal device may have spilled the beans on 16GB and 32GB versions of the iPhone 5 in both black and in white. Reports indicated that a Vodafone web page for the Sure Signal device, which helps boost 3G reception, said the device will be compatible with the iPhone 5.

Phone blog Know Your Mobile also claimed a O2 customer service representative said Oct. 21 will be iPhone 5 release date, thus accidentally revealing the UK launch date of the new smartphone.

As if that speculation was not enough, France Telecom CEO Stephane Richard, said in an interview with French radio station BFM that he has heard the iPhone 5 would be available starting Oct. 15, reported TechRadar, among many others.

The notoriously secretive Apple may be tired of operators giving away its game plan, but the reports only serve to highlight the degree to which European operators rely on these so-called "hero" devices to drive mobile data revenue and increase customer loyalty.

Meanwhile, the silence from Apple is deafening: the company has yet to reveal the launch date of the iPhone 5 in Europe, although so many dates have now been speculated about it could probably pick one and someone would have got it right. Reports have also suggested the device will be released in the United States a little earlier than in Europe, sometime in the first week of October.

As the rumours swirl, analysts suggest the iPhone 5 will see "unprecedented" demand when it is finally released. CNET cited survey results from RBC Capital and ChangeWave Research that said two-thirds of existing iPhone users are likely to buy the iPhone 5 when it becomes available.

However, Appleinsider quoted a financial analyst as saying the device will be "virtually identical" to the iPhone 4. Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo even added he suspects that Apple knows this and might just call its fifth-generation iPhone the "iPhone 4S."

For more:
- see this TechRadar article
- see this CNET article
- see this separate CNET article
- see this Apple Insider post
- see this Know Your  Mobile post

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