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AT&T Almost Doubling iPhone ETF Fees Ahead Of Rumored Verizon iPhone Launch

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If rumors of a Verizon iPhone in September (or a Sprint iPhone later this summer) are true, AT&T is going to have a hard-time keeping iPhone customers on their network after their exclusivity is up. One great way of keeping subscribers would, of course, be to offer better rates and improve their service… but since this is Ma Bell we’re talking about, they’ve just decided to try to almost double the price of Early Termination Fees from $175 to $325 to keep their existing customers locked-in.

To be fair, this is already the price of Verizon’s ETF… so AT&T is really just trying to make it equally difficult for subscribers to walk away from a contract as Verizon already is. Short term, however, it makes it a lot more expensive a proposition for customers to abandon ship for their competitors.

On their part, AT&T is saying the timing of the price increase isn’t related to Verizon getting the iPhone. Yeah, yeah. We’ll believe that only if a CDMA iPhone isn’t announced at WWDC.

More Shots of White Fourth-Gen iPhone Leak

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With Apple’s factory leak in China seemingly spurting iPhones by the palletful into Vietnam and other south-east Asian countries, it’s looking less and less likely that, hardware-wise, Jobs will have anything to surprise us with when he officially unveils the fourth-generation iPhone in four weeks. We know what it looks like, we know its hardware, we know its operating system… heck, we even know what colors it comes in, black and white.

But just in case you weren’t quite convinced by the white faceplate that leaked last week comes these better shots of a fully assembled white iPhone. It could still be fake, of course, but it takes a special kind of incredulity to disbelieve that Apple, after all these leaks, just wouldn’t release the next iPhone in white, of all colors. Either way, guess we’ll know for sure at WWDC.

Latest 4th Gen iPhone Leak Indicates White Front Panel Option

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The latest iPhone HD leak comes not from Vietnam, as we’ve come to expect, but good old Taiwan. Ready for a bombshell? Better pop a Lipitor: it looks like the iPhone HD may very well come in white.

We admit, snark aside, that’s not very exciting. iPhones have come in white before. What is interesting here, though, is that these are pictures of a white iPhone front panel. Traditionally, white iPhones are “white” only on the black plastic backing.

Whether these images turn out to be legitimate remains to be seen: the front panel’s a pretty easy thing to fake. Still, given the pedestrian nature of the revelation and Apple’s own history giving a white option on iPhones, don’t be surprised to see a white iPhone floating around at WWDC.

Friends and Music – Like Lady Gaga and Elton John!

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Ever since the master strategists in Cupertino bought and (predictably) killed off the only genuine competitor to ever rise against iTunes, the question has hung like a pall over the online digital music marketplace: what will replace Lala?

Perhaps Jobsian worker bees are buzzing about as we speak, crafting an iTunes portal to allow users access to their digital music libraries from anywhere on the Internet, one which will sell them web-only versions of their favorite music for as little as one thin dime per cut.

Until that happy day dawns, or until some other independent outfit comes along to offer something as interesting and valuable as Lala was, one might consider checking out a newish Facebook mashup called Friends and Music.

New iPod Touch With 2MP Camera Leaked In Vietnam (Where Else?)

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Apple’s factory leak is just getting bigger, and Vietnam continues to be the undiscovered country of Apple leaks, this time with exclusive photos of the new iPod Touch… this time sporting the long rumored 2MP camera we’ve been waiting for for the past years.

Vietnamese site Tinhte’s photos show a 64GB iPod Touch that looks remarkably similar to the current model, except for the addition of the camera sensor (which, surprisingly, is center-mounted on the back… I thought for sure the rubber foot on the left corner was where the iPod Touch’s camera would inevitably end up).

The biggest surprise here is that the fourth-generation iPod Touch isn’t sporting the same design as the iPhone, but is sticking with the current unibody, reflective unibody casing. And it looks like my wet dream of a microSIM slot in the iPod Touch was just that.

No matter, though: I’ve been waiting for a camera on the Touch for so long, this is easily a day one purchase for me. We’ll know for sure when we can pick one up at WWDC in June, although an early September release is historically the most likely bet.

AT&T Revising iPhone Upgrade Eligibility Dates For Possible June 21st 4th Gen iPhone Launch

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Hot on the heels of reports that Verizon might very well get a CDMA iPhone by September comes word from Mobilecrunch that AT&T has been tweaking its upgrade eligibility dates for the next iPhone.

Most people who purchased an iPhone 3Gs at launch were due for upgrade eligibility this November 21st, but now AT&T is pushing that date up to June 21st, 2010. Since Jobs is likely to formally announced the new iPhone at WWDC at the beginning of June, AT&T’s revised upgrade eligibility date seems like a pretty good bet for the next-gen iPhone’s official release date.

If Verizon is getting a CDMA iPhone in September, AT&T trying to get as many people to extend their contracts in the three month window after the new iPhone’s June release makes a lot of sense. They want to lock in as many existing customers as possible, before their subscribers actually have a choice. If you’re sick of AT&T’s lackluster service, you might well want to wait on taking them up on their “generous” offer to upgrade you early.

[via TUAW]

NPD Analyst: Android Outselling iPhone

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The horse race between the iPhone and Android just gets muddier. The latest spec on the lens is a new study from retail sales analysts at NPD Group. In the U.S., Google’s mobile phone software is ahead of Apple’s iconic handset, NPD announced Monday. Android led Apple 28 percent to 21 percent, with RIM’s BlackBerry still leading with 36 percent, according to the research firm.

But didn’t comScore announce recently the exact opposite: Apple had 25 percent of the market and Android was still in single-digits with 9 percent of U.S. smartphones? How can Apple both lead and trail Google? “It’s entirely reasonable,” comScore’s Andrew Lipsman told the Wall Street Journal.

Report: iPhone 4G Component Manufacturing Already Underway

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Amid speculation of when the iPhone 4G will be officially released and a brewing court battle over its premature disclosure by a gadget blog, manufacturers are already ramping up production of Apple’s upcoming handset, reports suggest. LG Innotek has starting making the 5-megapixel camera and could reach full-tilt by July, according to a Korean publication.

“LG Innotek will supply 5-megapixel cameras for Apple’s next-generation smartphone, the iPhone 4G,” reports the Chosun Ibo. Production began this month with mass-production expected in the second half of 2010.