Those awaiting the iPhone 6 release date so they can plan their cellular upgrade cycle accordingly just got another piece of the puzzle today, and it’s a big one. Costco, not commonly thought of as a consumer electronics mecca, but an iPhone retailer nonetheless, is now offering the iPhone 5S for $98, or a whopping $101 price break from its official $199 pricetag. While it’s far from the first iPhone 5S discount this year, it’s the largest one, and may finally be the signal that the iPhone 6 launch is just around the corner. So what now?
Apple focuses so hard on real-time inventory that it rarely has more than a few days of product stashed in its pipeline at any given time. But other retailers don’t stock Apple products on quite so narrow of a level, and can find themselves stuck with excess stock of an iPhone model when Apple unveils the new generation of the product. Hence third party price reductions such as the $98 Costco iPhone 5S are the first step toward rolling out the iPhone 6. The next step is for Apple to put the iPhone 6 into production at its factories, followed by a press event in which the iPhone 6 is debuted and the iPhone 6 release date is announced. Then preorders begin days later, and the retail release date takes place within a week to ten days.
So when exactly is that all coming? Various rumors have Apple placing the iPhone 6 into production this month, which means it could be ready to ship within weeks depending on how swiftly and smoothly initial manufacturing goes, and how much initial inventory Apple wants to amass for third party retailers. That points to Apple holding its iPhone 6 media event as soon as August, and the iPhone 6 release date coming as soon as the end of August or September. In the mean time, those who can’t wait any longer for the iPhone 6 at least have the consolation prize of a severely discounted iPhone 5S model.