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Friday, January 07, 2011, 01:05 pm PT (04:05 pm ET)

Verizon media event on Jan. 11 fuels Apple iPhone speculation [u]

Verizon has invited members of the media to an event next Tuesday, Jan. 11, in New York City, fueling rumors of an impending iPhone announcement.

On Friday, Verizon sent out formal invitations to members of the press for an event to be held at the Lincoln Center. The date — next Tuesday, four days away — is after the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas concludes.

The invitation states that the event will feature Verizon Wireless president Lowell McAdam, but no other details were provided. Of course, Verizon has been heavily rumored to gain access to the iPhone, and end its exclusivity with rival carrier AT&T, in the near future.

Typically, Apple holds events to introduce new products at its own corporate headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. If next week's event is for the much-anticipated Verizon-compatible CDMA iPhone, it would be unique for Verizon to make the announcement instead of Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs.

This week, AppleInsider first reported that Apple has begun quietly restricting employee vacations at the end of January and in early February. On Friday, another rumor surfaced, suggesting that Apple could have a major product launch scheduled for Feb. 3.

Also this week, photos and video of a component claimed to be from a new iPhone, showing a new stainless steel frame and antenna design, were released online. The video showing the part was removed from YouTube after a legal complaint was filed by Apple.

Update: TechCrunch reports that "Jim Dalrymple of The Loop (which exclusively covers Apple)" confirmed that he has been invited to the Verizon event, while Gizmodo, while "normally very friendly with Verizon," says it was not invited.

Gizmodo has not been invited to Apple-run events ever since the site obtained an iPhone 4 prototype last summer, and then refused to return it to the company until it published a series of articles with photos of the device as well as a picture of a legitimizing demand letter it required from Apple in exchange for the part's return, something Apple's chief executive Steve Jobs alluded to as extortion.