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New Disclosure Feeds New Rumors of Verizon iPhone

FILE - In this file photo taken June 29, 2010, the Apple iPhone 4 is shown at the Apple Store, in New York. A decision by Consumer Reports not to recommend the iPhone 4 because of reception issues could tarnish Apple Inc.'s reputation, but the snub isn't likely to dissuade fans who have braved poor reception for years.(AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, file)
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It's the Lazarus-like rumor that never stays dead for long: Verizon to sell Apple's iPhone - sometime. For sure... um, maybe.

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The latest round of speculation was triggered by ambiguous wording in AT&T's recent quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission where the company said for the first time that it would not suffer "material negative impact" it if lost its Apple exclusive to carry the iPhone.

"We do not expect any such terminations to have a material negative impact on our wireless segment income, consolidated operating margin or our cash from operations," AT&T said in the filing.

But the decision to even mention that has excited no small amount of textual hyperventilation by cyber-sleuths attempting to read between the lines. They were also intrigued by another section of the document where AT&T explained its decision to carry as many as 18 smartphones as something of a preemptive move to avoid "dependence on any single handset." That may not suggest anything other than prudent business sense. Or it may be a subtle acknowledgement that there's more than smoke to the rumors that Verizon is going to receive Apple's permission to start shipping the iPhone come January 2011. Separately, TechCrunch quoted "sources with knowledge of this entire situation" to the effect that Apple has ordered "millions of units of Qualcomm CDMA chipsets for a Verizon iPhone run due in December." In an unrelated matter, a leaked Verizon product roadmap suggests that another Droid branded phone, the Motorola Droid Pro, may make its debut in November. The upcoming unit is said to feature a 1.3GHz CPU, 4? screen as well as "global roaming capabilities."

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    Charles Cooper is an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet. E-mail Charlie.