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Verizon iPhone could hit in January, but holdouts have been burned before

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(Read caption) Verizon iPhone mania has once again gripped Apple lovers worldwide. In this picture, a Japanese man proudly displays his new iPhone 4.

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Verizon iPhone gossip has become something of a sport on the Web in recent months, so forgive us if we remain a little skeptical that 2011 will really, definitely, totally be the year that a Verizon iPhone lands on planet Earth. But as rumors go, this one is pretty solidly sourced: Bloomberg News says no less than two people "familiar with the plans" have confirmed that Verizon Wireless will break AT&T's stranglehold on the Apple iPhone in January of 2011.

Apple and Verizon spokesmen have declined to comment on a forthcoming Verizon iPhone. Still, if Verizon is really rolling out an iPhone next year, they will have the perfect opportunity to do it. According to Bloomberg, Verizon is expected to unveil several new 4G smartphones – each of which will run on Verizon's new 4G network – at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. And what device better to unveil than a shiny new Verizon iPhone?

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Earlier this month, Ivan Seidenberg, the Chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications, told the Economic Club of Washington that Verizon would like nothing more than to offer up an iPhone of their own. Still, when it came to discussing a concrete timeline, Seidenberg demurred. “That decision’s really Apple’s,” Seidenberg said. “We stand ready to do it, but that’s an Apple decision.”

Meanwhile, at least one analyst has predicted that a T-Mobile iPhone will hit long before a Verizon counterpart. In a report released on June 9, Shawn Wu, an analyst with a firm called Kaufman Bros., said a T-Mobile iPhone "closer to reality than ever [and] could happen as early as this fall." Wu based his prediction on conversations with sources at suppliers and retail-stores across the country.

A Verizon iPhone would radically shake a market currently dominated by AT&T, which has long been deluged with complaints about the service on the iPhone. But here's a question: Would a Verizon iPhone suffer from the dreaded death grip that currently afflicts AT&T-powered iPhones? We'll leave the speculation up to you. Drop us a line in the comments section.

Related links:

Verizon iPhone coming as soon as Apple is ready, says CEO

iPhone 'Death grip' cripples iPhone 4. Could a patch help?

iPhone 'death grip' lawsuit is in the works

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IN PICTURES: Apple's iCandy

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