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'iPhone 5S' said to begin trial production next month

Not a tasty enough rumor? Well, how about an Apple 'iTV' before mid-year?

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This December, Apple's Asian product assemblers will begin the first trial-production batch of its next version of the iPhone, said to be dubbed the iPhone 5S, in preparation for large-scale shipments (大舉出貨) to begin in the first quarter of next year.

This news rumor comes via the Chinese-language Commercial Times in an article entitled 迎戰三星 iPhone5S出鞘, which Google Translate renders rather unhelpfully as "Against Samsung iPhone5S scabbard."

The Taiwanese market-watchers and rumor-mongerers at DigiTimes are presumably proficient in Chinese, and they read the Commercial Times article to say that the iPhone 5S will begin volume production in the first quarter of next year.

In addition, DigiTimes reports that the same article says the next-generation iPad – which would be generation five – will be released in the quarter following the iPhone 5S's debut.

To complete the rumor trifecta, Google Translate's attempt at decoding the Commercial Times article also refers to an Apple "iTV" being released in the first half of 2013.

Rumors of an Apple-branded big-screen TV have been making the rounds for some time, with Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster noting in February 2009 that an Apple television would hit the market in 2011.

That – quite obviously – didn't happen, but the rumors have continued. For his part, Munster revised his timing prediction in late 2010, saying that Cupertino "will likely launch an all-in-one Apple Television in the next 2-4 years."

Munster has not been alone in his predictions. This June, for example, analyst Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets wrote in an investment note concerning Apple's television plans, saying, "We believe the pieces are in place for a launch soon," and that, "A holiday launch would make for a very merry holiday season for Apple and consumers."

Rumors, speculation, and predictions are all well and good, but seeing as how DigiTimes' recent report of a Foxconn expansion into the US was quickly repudiated by that iPhone-and-more assembler, we're even more likely to take their scuttlebutt with the customary grains of salt.

That said, the fact that this iPhone, iPad, and "iTV" report comes originally from sources speaking to the Commercial Times and not to DigiTimes, we'll file it away and keep our eyes peeled for more East Asian buzz about Apple's plans.

Only Cook & Co. know, of course, if and when an Apple-branded television will appear, but the next iteration of the iPhone is certainly a question of "when", not "if". ®

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