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Verizon iPhone set for early February release: report

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(Read caption) Verizon iPhone rumors are flying again.

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Verizon iPhone rumors are so 2010. (Early 2011 is going to be all about the Apple iPad 2 rumors.) Still this one is too intriguing to pass up, so bear with us. According to Boy Genius Report, Apple has "blacked out employee vacation requests between February 3rd and February 6th" – a span of time that just happens to include the Feb. 6 air date for Super Bowl XLV, otherwise known as the most-watched TV event of the year.

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So if you buy the BGR scoop – and you can read between the lines a little bit – you can see why a lot of bloggers are sure that Apple and Verizon are planning to use the 2011 Super Bowl to unveil the Verizon iPhone. Or the two companies could be planning to unveil the thing before the Super Bowl, and then buy up a bunch of Super Bowl airtime, and really hammer the message home.

Related: Verizon iPhone is reportedly signed, sealed, and ready for 2011 delivery

"Back in June of last year, Apple picked the dates of 24th to the 27th for its iPhone 4 weekend launch – also a Thursday through Sunday," BGR's Jonathan S. Geller writes today. "While BGR has not yet confirmed that the Verizon iPhone is the device we’ll see debut on the 3rd, the timing lines up very well with previous reports; no other Apple products have been rumored to be launching in this time frame."

In December, Gene Munster, an analyst at the investment firm Piper Jaffray, and an expert on the smartphone market, predicted that Verizon would sell 9 million iPhone units in 2011. For their part, Business Insider has released its own Verizon iPhone sales estimate of 10 million units, which the site says would be "$6 billion or more in incremental revenue for Apple."

IN PICTURES: Apple's iCandy