Yeah. Funny how all the Apple haters are not longer spouting that nonsense.
I doubt that moving the release date from early Summer to early Fall was the result of "hardware issues" (or due to agreements with Verizon). I think it's most likely that they wanted to separate the iPad and iPhone release dates and that iPod releases alone are not enough to get excited about any longer. The specific date of early October (vs. the usual early September date for iPods) could have been due to ironing out some hardware issue, but it's more likely that it was iOS5/iCloud/Siri development that determined the exact date.
So, I don't think it should be seen as a "delay". I think they made a conscious decision to move the release of the 4S to the Fall and that that determined the development schedule and what got included. I also wouldn't be surprised to see the iPad 3 release date move to June at the WWDC -- i.e., the "prestige" spot formerly occupied by the iPhone. (I would however be surprised to see them release a phone with a larger screen, even after the 3GS is retired.)
How could it be delayed when Apple never announced a ship date?
There are a number of things that could have been the limiting factor in getting this phone ready
- availability of A5 chips in sufficient quantity
- availability of the GSM/CDMA chip with sufficiently low power consumption
- iOS 5
- New camera sensors
or any number of other things. Frankly, no one outside of Apple has any idea, so it's not worth speculating. It was released when Apple was ready to release it. That's all that matters.