Analyst firm Avian Securities reckons Apple won't start producing the iPhone 5 until September this year, which could mean it isn't released until early 2012.
As ever, loose-lipped 'component suppliers' are the source of the rumour. Avian's research note states: "Conversations with yet another key component supplier indicate that production for the iPhone 5 will begin in September. This is consistent with Avian findings in the supply chain in recent months and we believe the consensus view is moving towards this scenario."
There's more. The research note goes on to suggest "the existence of a lower-spec/lower-priced iPhone in Apple's roadmap. However, while our contacts have seen the place-holder in the Apple roadmap, they do not yet have insight into specs or production timing. This leads us to believe that any launch is likely a very late 2011 or more likely a 2012 event."
New iPhone models have been launched like clockwork every summer since the first device appeared, but it's looking more likely that Apple is preparing to break the cycle for its fifth-generation device. That decision may be partly influenced by the effects of the recent earthquake in Japan -- several factories that supply components for smart phones and tablets have been disrupted.
Still, don't place all your bets on a post-Christmas release for the iPhone 5 just yet. Apple could unveil the device at its traditional autumn music event, synchronising its launch with a new. That said, a January 2012 launch might take the wind out of the sails of the huge CES trade show in Las Vegas, as journalists stampede to San Francisco instead.