If Apple's inventory orders are any indication, we could be looking at a very different smartphone. And, if the tealeaves are being read correctly, the iPad Mini may be more than just a rumor.
Apple has been spending money like there's no recession, dropping nearly one in every $10 it brought in from sales during the June quarter to prepay inventory orders. That amounts to a $1.15 billion spending increase over the previous quarter.
The money the company started spending on securing inventory contracts actually picked up nine months ago. That figure got turned up this spring, just as rumors of the iPhone 5 started circulating.
In other words, Apple has been gobbling up parts and pieces for nearly a year, a clear sign a new product - or products - is coming down the pipeline.
Signs of change to come
Apple hasn't spent this much on prepayments in four years, amounting to 12.6 percent of its total sales.
While this data, acquired by All Things D, further supports a fall release date for the sixth-generation iPhone, it also points to big changes on the horizon.
Apple, as is the case with most companies, typically spends more before it anticipates making a large return on its investments.
Spending more than $1 billion to stay the status quo isn't likely part of Apple's game plan with the iPhone 5.
And while over a billion dollars is enough to fill every Apple store with stockpiles of smartphones, it's still a large figure - pointing to the possibility something like the iPad Mini or Apple HDTV could be making their way into production as well.
Article continues below