NYT’s iPhone: Cheaper, not smaller

February 18, 2011, 11:13 AM UTC

It’s Sulzberger vs. Murdoch in the battle of the unnamed Apple sources

Photo: Pictures Portal

On Monday, the
Wall Street Journal
, citing “people familiar with the matter” — one of whom claimed to have seen a prototype — reported that Apple (AAPL) was working on an iPhone code-named N97 that was half the size and could be sold for half the price of the current model.

On Friday, the
New York Times
, citing “people briefed on Apple’s plans who requested anonymity because the plans are confidential,” flatly contradicted the Journal’s story. Apple is exploring ways to make iPhones cheaper, yes, but not smaller. The company has rejected that idea for now, according to these sources, because a smaller iPhone would be harder to manufacturer, harder to use and a pain in the neck for app developers.

Besides, N97 was the code name for the Verizon (VZ) iPhone introduced last month.

This sniping between the paper the Sulzberger family publishers and the one that Rupert Murdoch owns would be of interest primarily to news junkies were it not that whatever they print about Apple is immediately taken as gospel, picked up and amplified in the echo chamber of the blogosphere. In Techmeme‘s archives, the Journal piece is trailed by more than two dozen headlines. By 6 a.m. Friday, the Times‘ piece has already gathered 36. Plus this one.

Also on Fortune.com:

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]