While it would be easier to get blood from a stone, than confirmation from Apple, all the ecosystem signs are now pointing to a 21 September launch for the next iPhone, with Verizon banning all sales staff holiday from that date until the end of the month.
Ringing in the Changes and the Sales
As a spectator sport, frankly Apple could sell tickets and popcorn for its launch events. This year, Verizon has all but confirmed the date for the new iPhone by cancelling holiday from that point for the rest of the month. I'm quite happy with my iPhone 4S, I have no need for a more powerful device, or a bigger screen, or any of the other bells and whistles Apple will no doubt be offering, but for a gadget circus, this should be hard to beat.
With all signs now pointing to a 12 September launch event and the opening of pre-orders (hopefully Apple will have bulked up the web store, but I bet it will still keel over within seconds) for the iPhone 5, with it going on sale the following week. There is also the likely announcement of the iPad Mini (or whatever it will be called) which should be available in October, we're all set for another fun Fall of gadget watching.
And this year is set to be quite the event, with new Nokia Windows Phone 8 devices across all categories including Nokia phones, a new Samsung Galaxy Note and much more. But the iPhone 5 will likely be the media-enforced high point of the season and whatever technology Apple can pack into it will get the masses enthused.
Changing the Record Too
However, as we've seen in recent iterations, don't expect the huge queues and over-dramatic theatricals, smartphones aren't magical anymore, no matter how the makers try to spin then. For a start, more users are locked into longer contracts, buyers have less money, or other things to spend it on, and there is a wider range of top class devices to choose from.
Verizon will be stocking Nokia's Windows Phone 8 devices this year (according to Bloomberg), and likely giving them a great deal more space then than original Lumia devices got in other stores. So, we might have seen a peek in launch-period sales for smartphones, with the money now coming from the mid-range and emerging markets.
To spice things up, we should see some added tabloid "fury" as Apple has changed the dock connector, expect a good few "I'll never buy another Apple device ever" non-event stories. The current range of lawsuits being flung about might get even more ridiculous (expect someone to try to ban Apple from selling iPhone 5 in at least a few territories).
Either way, prepare for the excitement, or, if you're bored of the whole thing, remember to turn the Internet off that day.