Apple iPhone 5: Before Oct. 4 Intro, Some Apple Stores Go Dark

Here in Silicon Valley, everyone knows the temporary closure or blackout of Apple Stores in major cities usually portends the arrival of new Apple products. For big rollouts, store personnel have to get ready for crowds and set up marketing materials and training stations.

Well, we’re seeing a lot of temporary Apple Store closures today — stores in San Francisco, Seattle, and other cities are temporarily blacking out and reopening just before, on, or a day after Oct. 4. That’s the same day Apple invited media and analysts to its so-called “Let’s Talk iPhone” event at its Cupertino, CA headquarters at 10 a.m. Pacific Time. We expect newly appointed Apple CEO Tim Cook to make his onstage debut there, with the announcement of the long-awaited iPhone 5 in various iterations, as well as a cheap $199 iPhone 4 as its entry-level phone.

Asian component makers have been reporting that Apple is on target for a holiday release of a black and a white iPhone 5, with CDMA and GSM circuitry ready to go for weeks now. Other ordered parts, said one Asian supplier, include a 64GB module, lending credence to web reports that Apple will offer 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions of the iPhone 5. And then there’s this:

At a speech in South Africa last week, Apple board member and former US Vice President Al Gore let slip about “iPhones coming out next month.” The plural usage, if it wasn’t a mistake, likely refers to the various models above and, quite possibly, an iCloud-optimized iPhone 4 or perhaps the CDMA/GSM iPhone 5 Asian suppliers have long hinted at. An international phone with LTE and iOS 5 with 64GB would be a sweet announcement.

When will new product(s) come out? If history is any guide, Apple will announce the phones at the event and show lots of videos hyping up its new phones and upcoming iOS 5. The latter features improved voice recognition (iPhone 5-compatible only), among other new additions. Apple would be silly not to take this opportunity — the first time Cook takes the stage as an Apple CEO unveiling a product—to also make big iCloud announcements. Or he could show off the expected unlimited data plan Sprint iPhone 5 there. Or go wild with iOS news.

We’ll be live-blogging the event on Oct. 4, so stay tuned.

Here’s the sign in front of the Apple store in my neighborhood in San Francisco.

The store’s recorded message, virtually identical to five other closed stores messages, said the temporary closure was due to “a minor update.” It then connected me to the anchor Apple Store in downtown San Francisco, who said my neighborhood store here in the Marina District was closed “due to renovations” and that “we at this store are not doing any renovations.” I identified as a journalist and asked if the store was ready for the masses lining up for the iPhone 5. Sounding flustered, she quickly ended the call and forgot to take my name!

An informal sample of websites attached to temporarily closed Apple Stores show opening dates slightly vary—the Walnut Creek, CA store will open October 3, its site said. Others said Oct 4 and Oct 5.

Former CEO Steve Jobs, master of the stage, is a hard act to follow. Cook, a more subdued executive, would be wise to make up for any lost stage mojo with some standout announcements.  My sources predict a killer multi-network iPhone 5 (GSM/CDMA and maybe LTE?) and lots of fanfare. Watch groovyNews here at groovyPost as we update this continuing coverage.

Just one more thing: Apple Stores that will be open this weekend appear to be busily selling the $79 USB Apple OS X Lion Install Disc. A salesman I spoke to last week said the arrival was quiet — but they were flying off shelves. Of course, you could make one yourself. Watch our How To section to find out how.

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