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Briefly: Early iPhone rumors afloat

Though largely unconfirmed, a steady stream of reports are implying that Apple Inc's iPhone could hit the market a bit earlier than the company's June forecast, AppleInsider can attest.

The majority of those reports gain their legs from sources with supposed ties to wireless carriers Verizon and Cingular.

According to one account, Cingular has penciled in a loose launch date for late April. Despite some last minute requests by Apple on how the phone should be sold and activated, the report states that it is unlikely availability would slip beyond May.

Meanwhile, reputable sources in recent weeks have said that it's neither hardware nor FCC certification that are delaying the iPhone launch, but rather additional time needed to harmonize Cingular's backend with the mobile variant of Mac OS X that runs on the device.

Perhaps the most compelling evidence in support of the recent rumors arrived prior to the iPhone's premier and in the form supply chain checks out of Taiwan. For instance, the China Times reported in November that manufacturer Foxconn would begin production of the device in the first quarter of the year.

Subsequent checks by several Wall Street analysts also suggested that Foxconn would begin delivering the first batch of iPhones late in the first quarter or early second quarter. Based on those accounts, Apple's June timeframe would appear extremely conservative.

However, it should be noted that Apple rarely beats its own product launch forecasts and often pushes the limits of those self-imposed deadlines. Therefore, the recent rumors should be considers just as they are: rumors.