iPhone

An Apple supplier let slip when the iPhone 8 will be released

File photo: A customer views the new iPhone 7 smartphone inside an Apple Inc. store in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 16, 2016. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

File photo: A customer views the new iPhone 7 smartphone inside an Apple Inc. store in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 16, 2016. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

Apple is notoriously tight-lipped about its upcoming products, particularly when it comes to release dates. But its suppliers aren't always as cautious, and one may have spilled the beans about when to expect the iPhone 8.

In an earnings call last week, a company named Finisar, which makes a specialized laser used in augmented reality, said that it expects one of its customers to provide millions of sales this year. Finisar didn't specify who the customer was, but all signs point to Apple, with a venture capital firm calculating an October release date for the iPhone 8 based on Finisar's comments.

First, some background: Apple is reportedly making a big push to add augmented reality features to its next iPhone. (In fact, the company has already made an AR developer tool part of its upcoming iOS 11 release to create more AR-ready apps.) Some of the iPhone 8's AR-focused features could require new components, which is where Finisar's lasers enter the mix.

According to venture capital firm Loup Ventures, Finisar is expected to be one of only a few companies that will provide Apple with a specialized laser for AR applications. And while a report in Axios on the firm's comments note that Finisar didn't mention a company by name, Apple is the only company in the industry that has the scale and buying power to acquire so many units.

Loup Ventures goes on to conclude that Finisar's earnings call comments point to an October release for the iPhone 8. The venture-capital firm believes Apple will unveil the device in September.

The exact timetable on Apple's iPhone 8 release remains a subject of debate. Some reports have suggested Apple could release the device in September, as it has in recent years with the iPhone, but others, citing supply chain concerns, have said an October or even November release is more likely.

Still, Apple's suppliers can be good sources of information on Apple's plans, since they need to announce their timetables to shareholders. There's a chance, then, that Finisar's comments are our best hint yet at when Apple will deliver its new handset.