Speculation over the release date of the iPhone 5 is stirring controversy around the web.

Apple traditionally announces the latest iPhone at their Worldwide Developers Conference in June.  However, the timing of the 2011 version could be delayed, according to reports.

The February release of the Verizon Wireless version is partly to blame, some Apple watchers are saying, as it took focus from the product line.  Production delays stemming from component shortages stemming from damage following the earthquakes and tsunami in Japan are also blamed.

MacRumors claims to have a statement from an AT&T employee stating “Apple has informed us that they do not plan to release the iPhone in the June to July time frame, though there will be a newer version in the future.  Unfortunately, we have not been given a release time for the new phone.  We will release this information on our web site when it is available to us.”

AT&T spokesperson David Siegel neither confirmed nor denied the report, stating the carrier had no comment.  This is in line with Apple’s general policy of not commenting on release dates of upcoming products.

Reuters is claiming “three people with direct knowledge of the supply chain” have told them the iPhone 5 will not be ready for a September release.  Apple  would normally release a new operating system for the iPhone and release their latest line of iPod media players.

However, Craig J. Mathias, principal analyst at the Farpoint Group, isn’t convinced there will be a delay.  “I generally pay little attention to rumors.  But I personally believe that, yes, there will be a new iPhone this summer, possibly supporting LTE (Long Term Evolution),” Mathias said.  “This makes sense, as both AT&T and Verizon are moving in that direction, and Qualcomm makes some terrific chips these days.”

Expected updates for the iPhone include improved cameras, a larger screen and a faster processor…possibly moving to a dual core.

According to Kirk Parsons of J.D. Power and Associates, “Apple has been very consistent [with] new releases during the June/July time frame.  Possibly a later launch in the year may coincide with a rumored 4G version for Verizon and/or AT&T.”

Verizon Wireless’ new 4G network is currently available on just two smartphones.  Additional options are expected this summer.  An LTE-capable iPhone would add to the Verizon 4G line, and AT&T expects to move to LTE next year.