iPhone 5: Is it Finally HERE?

Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) next big event has been finally confirmed. The company on Tuesday distributed invitations to an event scheduled for September 12 in San Francisco, dropping a fairly big hint that it was ready to release the next-generation iPhone. The invitation read, “It’s almost here” and featured a large shadow of the number 5, a sign that the conference is most likely the launch of the iPhone 5.

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Speculation had perked up over the last few months as supply sources and analyst checks seemed to indicate that a new smartphone from the company was in line for a fall launch. The new iPhone is expected to feature a larger, high-resolution screen and a faster processor.

While Apple has sold 100 million iPhones in the three quarters since the iPhone 4S was launched, it has come under pressure from brand new Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android devices lately. In the second quarter, Android smartphones accounted for 68 percent of global smartphone shipments, compared with just 17 percent for the iPhone, according to IDC.

Still, the iPhone has helped Apple become the world’s most valuable company by market value, with its share price growing more than sevenfold since the first version of the device launched in January 2007. According to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, if the new iPhone goes on sale on September 21, Apple could sell as many as 10 million new iPhones in just the final week of that month.

The September 12 event will begin at 10 a.m. Pacific time at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, most of Apple’s rivals are also lining up their respective big days this month. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Nokia (NYSE:NOK) will host an event in New York on September 5, presumably to launch the next line of the Lumia smartphone. Google’s Motorola unit has lined up an event on the same day and in the same city, while Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) is hosting a media event in Los Angeles on September 6.

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