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Could iPhone 3.0 Software Update Mean A New iPhone?

With Apple ready to unveil iPhone OS 3.0, could that be a sign that a new iPhone is on the way?

iPhone users everywhere are speculating that version 3.0 will add a copy-and-paste function notably absent on first-generation iPhones along with the 3G models launched roughly a year later.

While Apple has yet to divulge what 3.0 of the OS will entail, Apple could be laying the groundwork for new iPhone hardware.

Apple has a history of releasing devices to run the specific operating systems: 1.0 on first-gen iPhones; 2.0 on the iPhone 3G; so what's in store for 3.0?

Apple also has been consistent with its device refreshes, launching the original iPhone in June 2007 and the iPhone 3G in 2008. Would it be too far afield to speculate that Apple could be prepping a third-generation iPhone for summer 2009, and OS 3.0 is the building block? Offering a sneak peek in March could lay the groundwork for a new release a couple of months later.

It would make sense for Apple to launch a new iPhone now, with rumors circulating about Apple and iPhone carriers slashing prices on the smartphone and service plans for it. Additionally, outlets have started offering refurbished iPhone 3G devices to spark sales. Mobile magazine reported that U.K. carrier O2 is going to lower its iPhone 3G prices in May in a bid to sell through inventory ahead of a June or July launch of a new iPhone.

iPhone 3G sales are also starting to dwindle after their initial boom when it was released last summer, though it sounds silly to say that a device that sells millions of units per quarter is struggling. But the numbers don't lie. Apple reportedly sold 4.4 million iPhones in the first fiscal quarter, down from fourth quarter sales of 6.9 million.

And according to a recent Gartner study on smartphone sales, Apple is having trouble moving iPhone 3G inventory.

"Apple's initial sell-through dropped significantly as sales fell during the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, Apple maintained its third position in the global rankings. Apple built an inventory of about 2 million iPhone units in the third quarter of 2008, which did not reduce significantly in the fourth quarter," according to the study.

Also, come June, millions of first-generation iPhone users will be ready to renew or drop their contracts with AT&T; there's no better way to get them to re-up than to get them excited about a new smartphone.

So as Apple gears up for its St. Patrick's Day surprise at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters, don't be shocked if it hints at a new smartphone.

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