[UPDATE: Apple made it official on Tuesday with this press release. Jobs' keynote is scheduled for 10 a.m. PT.]
Although no official announcement has been made, Apple public relations confirmed to Fortune that Steve Jobs will deliver a keynote address on June 9, the first day of the 2008 World Wide Developers conference.
It is widely expected that Jobs will use that speech to unveil the next generation of iPhones, including a so-called 3G model.
"The launch of the new model is imminent," wrote Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster in a report to clients Monday.
Munster notes that beginning Saturday, May 10, first generation iPhones were unavailable through Apple's online store in the United States, the most recent sign that the company is clearing inventory in advance of a new release. (Two days earlier, O2 ran out of iPhones in the United Kingdom.) On Sunday Munster called 11 Apple retail stores to check on their supply; five were completely out of stock and one of the remaining six had fewer that five phones on hand.
Munster also alerted his clients to the discovery, first reported over the weekend by
, of a switch in the latest release of the iPhone 2.0 firmware that will allow users to toggle 3G data ON for faster download speeds or OFF to conserve battery life.
Despite dwindling supplies, Munster still estimates that Apple will ship 1.7 million iPhones in the quarter that ends June 30. That's because he expects Apple to start shipping the new model in large numbers before the end of the month.
Other signs -- including the release of the new Software Developers Kit scheduled for late June and an AT&T Mobile (t) memo canceling staff vacations between June 15 and July 12 (see here) -- point to Friday, June 27, as the day the new model will go on sale. That would give Apple four days of 3G iPhone sales before the quarter closes.
"Net-net," writes Munster, "the initial surge of iPhone sales in June would likely offset the lost sales due to limited availability in May."