With a large-screen iPhone 6 possibly showing up this year, Digitimes Research provides some insight into where and when Apple rumors likely originate.
In an article posted Friday titled Explaining the Chaiwan Model for the Mobile Supply Chain, Digitimes Research talked about, among other things, timing.
"We may provide shipment data for Apple 1-2 months before [the product] even begins selling in the market, because that is when the supply chain delivers it to Apple," Digitimes Research said.
That may explain the crush of relatively reliable rumors that typically hit about a month before the product appears.
But there are stages before that. "When Apple is getting a product ready for the market, the product is in the supply chain pipeline 6-9 months before Apple even announces its launch," Digitimes Research said.
That assertion about a product being at suppliers but still going through changes six to nine months before release sheds light on some of thethat appear early on.
And where does the process begin?
"A brand like Apple or Samsung controls everything in the process of bringing their products to market...For example, it starts with the key component provider, which in the case of smartphones is the application processor."
So, a chip, like the Apple A7, or rumored A8 -- generally referred to as application processors -- may play a big part in the early stages of the product.
In a related discussion, Digitimes Research also notes that there "has been a seismic shift" in the design and manufacturing of products.
If you look at [processor] provider MediaTek, the company no longer follows a strict roadmap. It simply reacts to what the market wants. In 2013, for example, MediaTek sometimes went a couple of months without releasing a new product and then would release two products in the same month. They weren't following a roadmap, they were chasing demand.
Finally, Digitimes Research also spells out how Apple (and Samsung) have a different approach to mobile (smartphones and tablets) as opposed to laptops.
Huge brands like Apple and Samsung...continue to pursue a vertical integration strategy whereby they can control more of the design...in order to give them differentiation...However, this is a much different business model than that seen in the notebook industry, where ODMs provide designs to the brands and choose their own components. ODMs do a lot of heavy lifting in terms of product development, while EMS firms simply provide manufacturing services. The brands have much more control over the overall design and component choice.
Early Apple rumors, like the concept video above of an "iPad Pro," are usually pure speculation.