Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone is one of the most popular consumer technology products of all time. Thus, it's not that surprising that there's an active rumor mill as fans and other followers try to guess what's next for the iPhone.
Many iPhone rumors in the past have turned out to be true (or mostly true). Sometimes the iPhone rumor mill spits out theories that are totally implausible. Here are three recent rumors that have been widely aired despite being very far-fetched.
iPhone 6 shortages
One bizarre rumor that has been circulating recently is that iPhone 6 shortages are coming. This rumor has its origins in a UBS research report. Analyst Steven Milunovich wrote that Apple might reduce iPhone production by 40% next quarter while shifting its production mix toward the iPhone 6 Plus.
A variety of major tech and business news outlets thus began reporting that the iPhone 6 would become harder to find early next year. However, that would run counter to every iPhone product cycle in history.
Apple routinely has shortages when it first launches a new iPhone because demand surges when the new model comes out. It can take a few months to ramp up supply to match demand. Once that happens, production levels start to drop off as demand returns to a more normalized state.
A 40% sequential drop in iPhone production from the December quarter to the March quarter could make sense in this context. But Apple will only cut back on production when it has fulfilled all of the pent-up demand for the new iPhones. There's no way Apple will cut iPhone 6 production if that would lead to shortages -- that would just cause it to lose sales.
The iPhone 5c discontinued
Another strange rumor that has been making the rounds in the past few weeks concerns the future of the entry-level iPhone 5c. Apple's contract manufacturers are about to start winding down iPhone 5c production, according to multiple publications. Production will end for good by mid-2015 .
Based on this information, many media outlets have reported that Apple will stop selling the iPhone 5c by mid-2015. That makes no sense, as it would leave the iPhone lineup without an entry-level option.
There's probably a nugget of truth here, though. For the past few years, Apple has announced its latest iPhone(s) in early September. At the same time, it has discontinued the entry-level model while dropping the prices of the other models by $100 each.
Based on this timeframe, Apple is likely to stop selling the iPhone 5c in September, while making the iPhone 5s its entry-level offering. Apple would likely stop iPhone 5c production a couple of months earlier in order to clear its remaining inventory by September. That lines up well with the reported mid-2015 end of production.
New iPhones coming soon
A third far-fetched iPhone rumor that has been making the rounds claims that Apple will release new iPhones in the spring. According to the Stabley Times, Apple is worried that people won't buy the Apple Watch in the spring if it doesn't have a new iPhone to go along with it. Therefore, Apple is planning to launch the "iPhone 6s" in the spring.
While some media outlets republished this rumor, others began to pour cold water on it very quickly. Apple hasn't even reached supply demand balance for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus yet. Why would it replace these popular models just a few months from now?
It's possible that this rumor is completely wrong. But one way to square the circle is that Apple wants to release a new 4-inch model to appeal to iPhone fans who like the smaller size of previous models. This could include the internals of the iPhone 6 (including an NFC chip to support Apple Pay) in the form factor of the iPhone 5s.
If Apple releases an upgraded 4-inch iPhone, it might use the iPhone 6s moniker (with "s" standing for "small"). This would be a direct upgrade to the iPhone 5s rather than an upgrade to the iPhone 6, so it is at least plausible that Apple would release this model before next fall.
Little truth to these rumors
Sometimes it's hard to know whether the latest iPhone rumors are true or not. However, it seems pretty unlikely that Apple will create iPhone 6 shortages next quarter, that it will stop selling the iPhone 5c before September, or that it will release the next generation of iPhones in the spring.
There may be nuggets of truth behind each rumor, but unsuspecting journalists have instead circulated tall tales that are almost certainly false.
Adam Levine-Weinberg is long January 2016 $80 calls on Apple and short January 2016 $120 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.