The iOSphere was riven by controversy as "experts" dueled on iPhone 6 announcement dates. The fact that it was a phony controversy only made it more intolerable.

And could it be that a bigger-than-4-inch display would not set the world on fire? What villainy is this?

And those holiday iPhone 5s and 5C discounts? There's a Far Deeper Significance to them.

You read it here second.

iPhone 6 will be announced in June or July 2014

Or as the headline for Tyler Lee's post at Ubergizmo puts it, "iPhone 6 Predicted To Launch Mid 2014, According To Analyst."

The actual source for Lee's post, and for many other Internet posts, was a new "research note" from Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Mehdi Hosseini, a note that was actually about flash memory maker SanDisk. Kevin Shalvey at Investor's Business Daily may have been among the first to pick up on the note. 

Hosseini thinks that SanDisk will benefit from various smartphone trends, including the rising smartphone market in China and the Next iPhone. SandDisk apparently became an Apple supplier for the 2012 iPhone 5

According to the IBD post, Hosseini's research note includes several rather vague generalities about what Apple "is expected" to do. The use of "is expected" or "is likely" is an iOSphere convention that is used to deflect attention from a severe paucity of facts. The conventions create the impression that there is an expert, or at least an informed, consensus based on some kind analysis. In almost every case, that's not the case.

Here's how Shalvey puts it: "Apple is expected to introduce its next iPhone, possibly named the iPhone 6, in June or July 2014. It's actually expected to be a more meaningful product refresh' than the two iPhone versions launched in 2013, according to Hosseini. Although there is no color yet on the iPhone 6 specs, our recent checks in Taiwan and Korea suggest Apple has already begun negotiating with its memory suppliers to secure capacities.'"

As a basis for, you know, knowledge, these sentences are useless. A "more meaningful product refresh" apparently means "more visible changes that even an idiot could see compared to what was in the last phone." It sidesteps the question of whether Apple intends the Next iPhone to be a refresh of the product line or a distinct separate product, for example, adding a bigger-than-four-inch-display iPhone while still offering the four-inch-display iPhone.

The closest Hosseini comes to evidence is the "suggestion" that Apple has "already begun negotiating" with memory suppliers. But negotiating about what? And about which Apple products? And for what product-release timeframe? He doesn't say; he may not know.

Back to Tyler Lee at Ubergizmo. Having drawn our attention to Hosseini's speculation, Lee tells us to ignore it. "Like we said, based on previous iPhone releases for the past three years, it would be highly suspect that Apple would suddenly revert to its mid-year schedule again," Lee declares authoritatively. While it is not completely out of the question, it does not make much sense for now. However we wouldn't be surprised if Apple had already planned its next iPhone, although we doubt a mid-year release is in the cards. Take it with a grain of salt for now, but if you have been following the tech scene, this is one rumor you're better off discounting."

Highly suspect, but not out of the question, we wouldn't be surprised, we doubt, discount. By the time you reach the end, you realize that Lee is simply guessing based on what Apple has done for the past three years. Overlooking that Apple did something different during the three years before that.

iPhone 6 release date a "controversy," with "experts split" on date

If you can't find a good rumor, make one up.

And the one that Michael Briggs at the clickbait website DesignNTrend made up is "iPhone 6 Release Date Controversy: Experts Disagree." 

Briggs' post is the iOSphere equivalent of Rocky Road ice cream: He seems to have scoured the Internet and thrown in every single recent and not so recent rumor, referencing but not linking to the original sources, or at least the sources where he read about the rumor.

He picked up the IBD post on Hosseini's research note and structured his opening around that, so that he could then "balance" the mid-year prediction with later-year predictions, thus creating the illusion of a "controversy."

"A Spring-Summer release has been mentioned in previous reports, but there have also been an abundance of reports that claim Apple will stick to its past tendencies with the 6, including recent articles by Bloomberg, which states two curved iPhone models will be unveiled in the fall, and Chinese tech site Epoch Times, which claims the new iPhones won't be released until October 2014."

Briggs even drags in Gene "BlockBuster" Munster -- based on a research note Munster released last October, nearly three months ago in which the Piper Jaffray analyst gave his expert opinion that iPhone 6 will be a "blockbuster" in mid-2014.

Bryan Wolfe at AppAdvice had the same idea as Briggs, or borrowed it. His post's headline warns, rather ominously, "Experts Are Split On When Apple Will Release The 'iPhone 6.'" 

"So what does the crystal ball say about the 2014 iPhone release date? It's murky, at best," he declares. Murky as crystal. Or clear as murk.

Wolfe thinks there was a consensus about the iPhone 6 release because the Chinese site Epoch Times and Bloomberg News both "report" that it will occur in the fall of 2014. But then along comes Hosseini.

"Throwing a wrench in all this is a new report from Inventors Business Daily. In it, Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Mehdi Hosseini says that the iPhone 6 will likely come out in June or July 2014."

An expert is a person who has "special skill or knowledge in some particular field; specialist; authority." It derives from the Latin "experiri" meaning to try, to test. As a result, the original "expert" was a "person wise through experience," according to Dictionary.com.

But in all of these posts, there is little experience, and even less wisdom.

If iPhone 6 has a big screen, no one will care

Waxing philosophical, a post at ValueWalk wonders "iPhone 6 Is A Bestselling Idea, But Will It Be A Good Phone?"

The author, ValueWalk Staff, never gets around to answering that and the bulk of the post rehashes a new "outlook" on Apple's stock by two stock analysts with J.P. Morgan Equity Research, Mark Moskowitz and Mike Kim. They're bullish in the long-term apparently.

Though why they are isn't very clear. As ValueWalk Staff puts it, with unexpected realism, "Analysts think investors will look beyond near-term quarterly beats and start asking [what's next?', and analysts at JPM do not know what is next."

Talk about an epitaph for the iOSphere.

Moskowitz and Kim do not set great hope that the intensively rumored Bigger-Than-4-Inch-Display iPhone will be, to quote Gene Munster, a "blockbuster."

"Given most of the smartphone market is already there, it is unlikely that a larger screen size iPhone 6 alone will drive a significant shift in market share, in analysts view," according to ValueWalk. "They think that consumers who wanted a larger screen already own a smartphone from Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. or another vendor. Apple Inc. may potentially grab some of those users with a large-screen iPhone (iPhone 6), but land grabs can be more difficult than penetration of new adopters."

The Rollup isn't going to comment on the penetration difficulties.

But the argument that a large-screen iPhone 6 will not necessarily result in a massive increase in iPhone sales, or be regarded as a breakthrough in innovation, is at least interesting. We lack specific sales data at this point for the 4-inch iPhone 5S (or the 5C), but it seems to be at least as popular as the iPhone 5, which was extremely popular indeed. While ValueWalk seems to think that some kind of breakthrough, or as they put it "impactful catalyst," is needed, Apple's strategy of continuous improvements that preserve, refine, and facilitate the total "user experience," is driving iPhone sales just fine.

iPhone 6 will be released soon because Walmart is discounting iPhone 5S, 5C

"As part of a holiday sale starting Friday [December 20], Wal-Mart plans to offer the iPhone 5c for $27 with a two-year contract from AT&T or Verizon," reports Salvador Rodriguez, in a story for the LA Times. 

The list price with contract is $99, so a discount of roughly 60 percent is enticing. Which is the idea of holiday promotions. The iPhone 5S is also being discounted at Walmart for a while, offered at $127 with a two-year contract, down from its regular $199.

Everybody is getting into the act, as Macrumors' Juli Clover noted in her own Walmart-related post. "Best Buy is offering a $75 discount on the iPhone 5s with the purchase of a two-year contract and MacMall is offering the 16GB iPhone 5s for $120 and the 16GB iPhone 5c for $20," she writes. "Sam's Club will be selling the iPhone 5s for $119 with a two-year contract through January. From Dec. 13-15, the deal will be available to non-members as well."

But there is more to this than meets the eye bedazzled by Christmas, or "holiday," tinsel and lights, according to Kristin Dian Mariano. In her post at International Business Times, she reveals to readers that "This sudden decrease in iPhone prices hint the coming iPhone 6 release date, which is speculated to happen early next year."

Early. Next. Year. Is that a Christmas present or what, even if it is technically after Christmas. Of  course, that would mean that you should not, no matter how tempting the low price, buy the iPhone 5S or 5C because they are about to replaced, perhaps in a matter of weeks, by the Awesome Blockbuster iPhone 6. Or you could just wait for the iPhone 7.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnwwEmail: john_cox@nww.com

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