Rumors like… the iPhone 5 will only be coming to Verizon… it could be available by early 2011… it will be smaller, faster and better than before. Oh, and then there’s the rumor of a new iPad mini coming in 2011… but wait… isn’t that an iTouch? All I know is, if I became an AT&T customer just so I could get my beloved iPhone 3Gs (so glad I didn’t pay for an upgrade to the 4) and now the bigger, better, faster version will be on Verizon I will not… I repeat… I will NOT be a happier camper. Like Steve Jobs cares one way or the other about how happy I am.

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To every rumor, there is a season, and it’s especially true for the iPhone 5.

In July, the rumors about the new iPhone began to fly, and what was most interesting about them was the rumored delivery of the gadget. Reputable Apple news sources like iLounge were hearing chatter that the iPhone 5 would make its debut as early as January of 2011 — just 6 or 7 months after the release of the often hyped, sometimes maligned iPhone 4.

Building on to this rumor was that Verizon would be getting the iPhone 5, and that it would have all kinds of new additions and innovations that iPhone users have been jonesing for: a larger screen, an internal antenna, bump payment technology, and more. All of these rumors have led to even bigger questions about the future of the iPhone, its relationship with AT&T, its competition with Droid, and more.

But all of those fun rumors have now passed. We’re now in a new season of rumors: the season of skepticism.

Although there is no proof to the contrary, tech speculators are now beginning to doubt the iPhone 5 rumors — particularly the ones that have to do with an early 2011 release. As quickly as iPhone 5 fervor had embraced the notion that the new version could usher in the New Year, now the Apple intelligensia are poo-poo’ing the same rumors that they helped to foment. Do you feel like you’re getting jerked around a bit?

Well, you are.

The fact is, Apple’s PR department plays a prominent, albeit stealth role in these rumors. They are acutely aware of the rumors — perhaps they are even the author of them. And it makes perfect sense: what better way to keep the smart phone media and market focused on your company by drumming up copious amounts of free press and chatter about your company’s next product? While we all continue to debate whether and what the next iPhone will be, competitors like the Droid are left in the shade. Therefore, when rumors and information get “leaked” to the public, it is usually in the form of controlled leakage.