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Verizon iPhone rumored to launch on February 3

Over the past few months, the rumors of a Verizon CDMA-based iPhone have reached a fever pitch. Now the folks over at BGR think that they've come up with the exact date that the fabled VZW iPhone will hit the streets -- February 3, 2011.

Why the day after Groundhog Day? Well, they based it on confirmed stories from "sources close to Apple" that retail employees have been told that they cannot take vacation between Thursday, February 3 and Sunday, February 6. This is a usual Apple retail response to the impending release of a new product. We reported on this vacation moratorium yesterday, but the timeframe was vague. Now it's been pinned to a specific four-day period.

The Loop is also reporting that there's a Verizon special event planned for 1/11/11 at 11 AM ET. The event, which will be held at Rose Hall in the Time Warner Center (the home of Jazz @ Lincoln Center) in New York City, may or may not be about the Verizon iPhone -- for all we know, it could herald the availability of yet another Android phone.

Our sense is that it would be out of character for Apple to let Verizon make the announcement without an Apple-controlled event being held in Cupertino or San Francisco, but there is the contrary notion that outside the US, second or third carriers picking up the iPhone barely merited a press release from Apple HQ. Obviously, AT&T losing its exclusivity is a big deal... but we don't know yet what's happening next Tuesday. Update: Well, if you like reading tea leaves, consider the fact that Gizmodo hasn't yet received an invitation to the Verizon event; that's unusual, considering there's no particular bad blood between the site and the carrier. That's not true for every company out there, obviously, and if it turns out to be an Apple/VZW collaboration then the edited guest list would make a lot of sense. As of Friday afternoon, though, Macworld hadn't gotten an invite either.

As BGR points out, the iPhone 4 was launched over a 4-day period (June 24 - 27, 2010) that was also a Thursday to Sunday slot. Verizon also likes to launch new products on Thursdays, and as far as we know right now, Apple has no other big surprises (i.e., iPad 2) to amaze the world with in that timeframe.

Personally, I'd love to see a Verizon iPhone that runs on their new 4G network and allows tethering. If that happens, I'll be jumping to VZW faster than you can say "Can you hear me now?" How about you, TUAW reader? Would you drop AT&T for Verizon? Take our poll.

When a Verizon iPhone arrives, will you drop AT&T?
No, the penalty for dropping AT&T is too high.806 (11.7%)
No, I'm happier than a pig in slop about my AT&T service.1518 (22.0%)
Yes, I can't wait to get away from AT&T. 2097 (30.4%)
Yes, but I'll wait until my contract with AT&T is up.1676 (24.3%)
Other (leave comment below)807 (11.7%)

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