Verizon's iPhone: Coming 'Early Next Year'?

Apple iPhone
Apple iPhone

Our long, national nightmare of waiting for Apple's (AAPL) wildly popular iPhone to become available on Verizon Wireless may soon be over. Verizon, the country's largest mobile carrier, will begin offering the device "early next year," according to a report in The Wall Street Journal Wednesday.

Update: 5:15 p.m. -- The Journal has walked its story back a bit, now reporting, "Apple Inc. plans to begin mass producing a new iPhone by the end of 2010 that would allow Verizon Wireless to sell the smartphone early next year, said people briefed by Apple."

Update: 8:30 p.m. -- And now back again: "Apple Inc. is making a version of its iPhone that Verizon Wireless will sell early next year, according to people familiar with the matter, ending an exclusive deal with AT&T and sharpening the competition with Google Inc.-based phones."

(A spokesperson forJournal owner Dow Jones, which is part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. media empire, did not return a request for comment on the shifting stories.)

Apple will begin mass-producing the device, which will be based on the CDMA technology used in Verizon-compatible phones, by the end of 2010, the paper said, citing "people briefed by Apple."

The iPhone's arrival at Verizon Wireless will make the handset available to millions of new customers. It will also end Apple's exclusive deal with AT&T (T), which for the last three years has been the sole iPhone service provider.

Verizon has long been coy about when it would offer the device. In June, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg said the iPhone will come to Verizon "eventually". Apparently, "eventually" means next year.

Additionally, the Journal reported that Apple is working on a new, fifth-generation iPhone, which is said to have a different form factor than the current model.