How Much Longer Will You Wait for the Next iPhone?

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If you're patting your pockets as if you've misplaced something, you're not alone. Apple (NAS: AAPL) has historically refreshed its iPhone product line in June or July. But it's August now, and there's no iPhone 5 in sight.

The market doesn't seem to care. Apple shares hit an all-time high last week, as steady sales of the fourth generation of its trendsetting smartphone helped guide the tech giant to yet another blowout quarter.

The delay doesn't seem to be slowing Apple down. It's quite possible that potential buyers made their springtime purchases once they knew that the fifth generation wasn't coming anytime soon. However, now we're seeing that the rumored September debut is no longer accurate.

Sources tell AllThingsD that an October release looks more likely -- probably closer to late October. Does this mean the handset will come in Halloween orange and black?

Everyone was gravitating to a September release date because of yet another rumor. Reports indicated that AT&T (NYS: T) had blocked vacation-time requests for the latter half of September. We live and die by gossip, yet Apple is usually pretty good about keeping at least some of its product surprises under wraps.

Despite the consistent uncertainty, we fall into the same trap of believing "the blogger who cried iPhone" every single time. Maybe AllThingsD's John Paczkowski nailed it this time -- but maybe he didn't. In July, the favorite rumor called for September release. Now we're talking September. What if the iPhone 5 is always just two months away?

One can argue that the holdup will give AT&T and Verizon (NYS: VZ) time to beef up their 4G networks, but that can't be the sole reason for the iPhone 5's delay. Apple's smartphone has become too much of a global phenomenon to fret about slow-footed carriers close to home. Also, there's no certainty that the next iPhone will even be 4G capable.

The real reason why the iPhone 5 had better surpass expectations: Despite slowing Android growth after Verizon got the iPhone, Google's (NAS: GOOG) Android has still been growing faster than Apple. There are too many handset makers and wireless carriers across all pricing categories hopping on the Android platform. The longer it takes Apple to hit the market with something revolutionary, the wider the gap that it must eventually overcome.

The iPhone 5 is already late. One can only imagine how the market will react if it also proves to be merely ordinary.

What features do you want to see in the next iPhone? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of AT&T, Apple, and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is hoping that he has plenty of choices, since he's due for an iPhone upgrade later this year. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

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