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Wednesday, December 29, 2010, 03:40 pm PT (06:40 pm ET)

Apple expected to hold event by Valentine's Day to announce Verizon iPhone

Apple is expected to hold an event "very soon," perhaps by Valentine's Day on Feb. 14, 2011, to unveil a new CDMA version of the iPhone compatible with U.S. carrier Verizon's network.

In a report issued Wednesday evening by Bloomberg Businessweek, the alleged coming debut of the iPhone on Verizon is portrayed as an "enormous problem" for AT&T, the current exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the U.S. While AT&T has had sole access to the iPhone since 2007, problems with its network have caused bad press, including a recent reader poll from Consumer Reports ranking AT&T the worst carrier in America.

"Verizon enjoys a reputation for reliability," author Peter Burrows wrote. "AT&T is notorious for dropping calls, especially in densely populated places like New York and San Francisco where iPhones are most common and cell towers get loaded."

The report said that Apple would hold one of its own "splashy product introductions to announce a new version of the iPhone that work's on Verizon's network," and said that event would "maybe" come by Valentine's Day.

Some have speculated that Apple would instead allow Verizon to announce the product at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January, an uncharacteristic move for the typically controlling iPhone maker. But the report specifically stated that a CES unveiling is not in the plans.

"Apple's introduction of an iPhone for use on Verizon's network will come sometime after the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January, according to a person familiar with Apple's plans who is not authorized to discuss them publicly," Burrows wrote.

But while the apparently loss of exclusivity on the iPhone is cause for concern for AT&T, the report also suggested that Verizon could experience its own growing pains when Apple's smartphone arrives on its network.

"At least initially, Verizon's iPhone may have weaknesses compared to AT&T's," the report said. "The expense and hassle of changing carriers could also work to AT&T's advantage."

It also noted that iPhone customers may be less likely to switch from AT&T if they are still under contract, as the carrier upped its termination fee to $325 in May of this year. The carrier also offered early upgrades for some iPhone 4 buyers whose contracts had not expired, locking them in to another two full years.