Verizon iPhone

Apple has issued a vacation time blackout period from the last week of January to the middle of February where retail employees without seniority won't be able to take time off, presumably to ensure employee coverage for the first major product launch of 2011. Could this be in preparation for a Verizon iPhone launch?

Apple is quietly prohibiting vacation days for some retail employees for three weeks beginning later this month, a move that could foreshadow a significant product introduction in the coming weeks.

Apple is denying that the store vacation time was for getting ready for a CDMA Verizon iPhone, but all the signs suggest a possible launch may be imminent. There have been a lot of rumors floating around lately about an early-2011 Verizon iPhone launch, with the latest round coming yesterday when images of a purported Verizon iPhone casing leaked onto the web. We at least know it won't be the iPad 2, which is expected to ship in April to keep in line with Apple's yearly release schedule.

Apple usually doesn't initiate these types of lockdowns unless something big is coming, so what do you think it could be? Sound off in the comments below!