An Apple logo is seen at the entrance to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts… (Kimihiro Hoshino, AFP/Getty…)
It's shaping up to be a busy September for major technology announcements.
After months of rumors, Apple Inc. on Tuesday sent out invitations for a media event Sept. 12 in San Francisco that is widely expected to be the launch of the iPhone 5.
"It's almost here," the email invite said, with a huge "12" underneath. Although the invite didn't say specifically what would be announced, the shadow under the "12" was of a large "5."
Apple will hold the event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts at 10 a.m. The Cupertino, Calif., company used the same venue in March to announce its latest iPad tablet computer.
Fall is a busy time for tech product launches as companies gear up for huge sales during the holiday season. As rumors swirled that Apple would hold its event Sept. 12, rival firms got a head start by scheduling their own events ahead of the tech behemoth's.
Nokia Corp. and Microsoft Corp. are holding a joint news conference in New York on Wednesday, and Motorola Mobility will host its own event a few hours later.
On Thursday, Amazon.com Inc. will host an event in Santa Monica. Reports indicate that the e-commerce giant could announce a new Kindle device, refresh multiple devices or possibly debut its own smartphone.
Last week Samsung Electronics Co. introduced several devices, including the Galaxy Note II, a new Android-powered camera and a Windows 8 tablet.
"That Sept. 12 date has been widely known for quite some time. There is zero surprise that it's going to be a new phone, and it's allowed the competitive landscape to arrange around that pin," said Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Financial. "That seems a little un-Apple to me."
Although the other tech events are stealing "a little slice of [Apple's] thunder," Apple's announcement will still get the most attention, Gillis said.
"They're giving other people a chance to front-run it, that's all," he said. "We'll see what everyone else can do."
It's expected that the sixth-generation iPhone will be available for pre-order almost immediately after the event, with the device to hit store shelves by the end of the month.
The iPhone 5 is rumored to be a big upgrade for the company's popular smartphone, and hype about the product has caused Apple shares to surge to record highs in recent weeks. One downside, however, is that sales have slowed for current iPhones because of anticipation over the new model.
Shares of Apple rose $9.73, or 1.5%, to $674.97 on Tuesday.
Based on recent checks with Apple's Asian suppliers and images purportedly showing the revamped smartphone, technology analysts say they expect a handset with a larger screen, high-speed 4G LTE connectivity, a better camera, faster processors and a smaller dock connector.
There's also a chance that Apple could unveil a rumored mini-iPad tablet, although many analysts say they think the company will wait until October to make that announcement.