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2009 Top Five: Wireless Rumors

Dan Jones
LR Mobile News Analysis
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor
12/28/2009

Let's make no bones about it, 2009 was all about Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) device rumors, with everyone and his mother's blog looking for fresh -- or least reheated -- information on the iPhone and Android-based gadgets.

So, we at Unstrung make no apologies for focusing on the Google and Apple chatter that mattered in 2009. Even if we decided to throw in a few wild cards too.

Read on for a rundown of what we consider the most robust rumors of the year:

1. The Apple iPhone on Verizon
It may seem like Fake Steve is now suggesting that this is empty dreaming by iPhone fanboys who don't want to use AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s network to get their touch-screen fix. (See AT&T CTO: We Know What's Best for You.) Nonetheless, rumors about Apple ending its exclusive agreement with AT&T in 2010 and launching an iPhone on Verizon have persisted throughout the year. Some have even suggested that Verizon would be the first to launch an LTE iPhone in 2010, even though chipsets that support the new wireless technology are likely to be expensive and in short supply next year. (See Rumors of an LTE iPhone (Again).)

The Verizon iPhone is truly the rumor that won't die in 2009. Even as year fades out, chatter has reignited about the iconic gadget hitting the big V next year.

2. The real Google phone
Is it a truly open device? Is it another High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) Android phone? Or is it a test-bed for new Google mobile developments? Maybe...

The coming of the "real" Google phone set the pace for mobile rumor-making in the tail end of 2009. The "Google" phone is supposedly an open device (that only runs on GSM) made for the search giant by HTC. 2010 might actually reveal what actually makes this so different from the current crop of Android phones, if anything. (See Meet the New Google Phone and Google's 'Mobile Lab' .)

3. T-Mobile and Sprint to merge
This M&A rumor was revisited a couple of times during the year. Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), the logic ran, could pick up Sprint for a song, gain a much larger customer base in the U.S., and add to its spectrum resources for T-Mobile US Inc. 3G and 4G deployments. What nobody really explained, however, was how the two carriers would stitch their differing network technologies together in a timely fashion, when Sprint has already struggled with integrating the smaller Nextel network. (See DT & Sprint: A Bargain in the Balance?)

4. Android open access
Ah yes, Unstrung heard at the CTIA show in October that one of the very first Android devices from Verizon Wireless will be an "open access" phone that can act as a "MiFi" personal WiFi router. Maybe we'll hear more about this at CTIA in January? (See Verizon to Have 3 Android Devices by Early 2010.)

5. Comcast WiMax femtocells There's actually been talk of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) deploying WiMax femtocells since the Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) deal was inked in 2008. (See Comcast Goes for WiMax Femtocells.)

The tiny cellular radios for the home have a long time coming, however. The latest word is that Comcast is testing units now. This may be one femtocell to watch for at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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