Report: Verizon iPhone Coming In January 2011

That's the word from Bloomberg News, which on Tuesday quoted "two people familiar with the plans" as saying that Verizon will start selling iPhone next year.

A Verizon iPhone has been long-rumored, of course, but in recent weeks, rumors about Verizon and other carriers getting a shot at Apple and iPhone in the U.S. have picked up with greater frequency.

In late March came reports that Apple was preparing a CDMA cellular version of the iPhone, meaning one that could be supported by primary CDMA carriers like Sprint and Verizon.

Earlier in June, however, Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu predicted that the next carrier for iPhone in the U.S. wouldn't be Verizon, but instead T-Mobile, which, like AT&T, offers 3G services using UMTS/HSPA technology. AT&T's original iPhone agreement is also said to have been for five years -- meaning it would expire in 2012 -- but even if true, the original deal may have been renegotiated.

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A Verizon iPhone would dramatically broaden the iPhone's exposure as well as ensure Verizon has showpiece handset on all of the most popular smartphone platforms. Earlier this month, Verizon confirmed availability of Motorola's Droid X. Among newer Android-based smartphones, Verizon also carries HTC's Droid Incredible and Samsung's Fascinate.

Apple unveiled iPhone 4 earlier this month and earlier this week it had sold 1.7 million units in the first three days after launch.