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Tech Rumor of the Day: Apple

Analysts warn that Apple may forego the expected June debut of the new iPhone in favor of a July unveiling.

As the excitement builds for



Pre debut on June 6, analysts are warning that


(AAPL) - Get Free Report

may forgo introducing the new iPhone next week and hold a separate ceremony next month instead.

Analysts Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster and Oppenheimer's Yair Reiner both issued notes Thursday warning investors that Apple may disappoint the fans who are expecting the new iPhone to be the centerpiece of the company's Worldwide Developers Conference, which starts Monday in San Francisco.

Munster, for one, is holding out hope for a mid-July launch of "a family of iPhones." Presumably that would include a feature-packed "pro" model and a lower-priced iPhone -- though not necessarily the

$99 phone

many have recently come to expect.


The Wall Street Journal

's well-respected gadget guy Walt Mossberg, in his mostly

glowing review

of the Palm Pre on Thursday, offered a somewhat mixed prediction for the iPhone's arrival.

Mossberg is considered to be more in-the-know that the average tech hack since he is often granted early access to devices, and sometimes he's privy to announcement dates.

At the begnning of his review of the Palm Pre, Mossberg compares the Pre to "the new iPhone to be unveiled next week." Later, he writes about the new iPhone hardware, "likely available within a month."

Close readers may see a distinction in the two mentions of the iPhone. The thinking is that Apple's development conference is a software showcase where executives -- apparently not including

Steve Jobs

-- will gush about the innovations in the iPhone 3.0 and Snow Leopard operating systems.

And while an iPhone may be used in a demonstration, Apple may hold off on a separate iPhone hardware introduction that Mossberg and Munster hint at.

If the new iPhone is a no-show next week, Apple's stock will without question be in for a shock.

But Oppenheimer's Reiner -- in classic "buy on the dips" fashion -- says any weakness in the stock would be a good buying opportunity for Apple investors.

As popular as the Apple shows have become, there's also been a bit of a buzz-kill element at the end of recent performances. Fans who'd grown accustomed to Jobs' "one more thing" surprises now leave disappointed when the show concludes with out a big new development.


shares slipped a bit

after the January MacWorld show after the company stuck with a predictable script. And hopes were dashed for those expecting even a brief Steve Jobs sighting.

So it's probably prudent to brace for the possibility that the Apple show may lack both a Jobs appearance and a new iPhone.