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Apple to debut iPhone 5 on October 4: report

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This may be the last iPhone 5 rumor you ever hear: Apple will hold its next big event on October 4, reports John Paczkowski at AllThingsD, who spoke with “sources close to the matter.” During the event, the company’s new chief executive, Tim Cook, will unveil the iPhone 5.

The date lines up perfectly with the early October timeline rumors we’ve been hearing for months on end. Exactly which day has been unclear — some said October 6, some October 15 — but it seemed increasingly apparent that the big day would come during the first half of the month.

While the debut of the extra-long-awaited iPhone 5 is massively important for Apple, the keynote presentation by CEO Tim Cook may hold higher stakes. Since the reveal of the first iPhone in 2007, Steve Jobs made the keynote. His showmanship and innate ability to passionately convey the features of Apple’s newest iThings have played a major part in the success story of the devices.

Now, with Jobs retired as CEO, Cook is tasked with satisfying legions of Apple fanboys, fangirls and market watchers who will surely look to Cook’s performance as an indication of what Apple will become under his rule.

As Paczkowski writes:

To pass the presentation on to anyone else — even one of Apple’s key executives such as Phil Schiller, who has handled the Macworld and Worldwide Developers Conference keynotes in 2009 — would undercut Cook’s new role and reinforce public perception that its legendary outgoing CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs is Apple and that it will be a different company without him.

Despite the importance of Cook’s presentation, people are still talking about Jobs, wondering whether he’ll make an appearance during the event. Maybe he will, but it doesn’t seem likely. To do so would muddle the narrative of Apple; that it has entered a new era, with a new king. So don’t expect Jobs. Expect Tim Cook and the rest of Apple’s executive branch to put on the show of their lives.

UPDATE: Paczkowski says that the iPhone 5 will be available for purchase “within a few weeks” after the launch. But Forbes‘ Phillip Elmer-Dewitt estimates that the buy-date will come much sooner, as Apple has, over the past five years, developed a track record of significantly reducing the time between announcement and physical delivery of its devices. In other words, customers could have their hands on the iPhone 5 anywhere from a few days to weeks after its debut.