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The AppAdvice Week In Review: Sprint-Mobile, AT&T's Crazy Talk And Free Tunes

There was plenty of technology news during the past seven days. Here are just some of the stories we covered during the week that was.

Sprint could buy T-Mobile

In a move that could reshape the U.S. cellular industry, Sprint is expected to make a play for T-Mobile in 2014. A merger between the No. 3 and No. 4 carriers could result in a super carrier capable of taking on No. 1 Verizon and No. 2 AT&T. Before Sprint-T-Mobile becomes a reality, however, it is likely to face pressure from U.S. antitrust authorities. As Joe White reported, “such authorities may argue that having three major carriers in the United States, rather than four, could see prices become less competitive, ultimately resulting in a poor deal for U.S. subscribers.” He further explained:
The Wall Street Journal adds that Deutsche Telekom, which owns a 67 percent stake in T-Mobile U.S., is reportedly looking to exit the U.S. market. Between them, Sprint and T-Mobile have some 53 million postpaid subscribers; compared with Verizon's 95 million postpaid subscribers and AT&T's 72 million, this still means Sprint and T-Mobile would take third-place in the United States, even as a combined company.
It may cost Sprint $20 billion to acquire T-Mobile.

AT&T CEO wants to end a practice it perfected

The days when carriers subsidized phone purchases could be coming to an end -- at least if AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has his way. Speaking to AT&T investors, Stephenson says that carriers can no longer afford to fund a continuous smartphone upgrade cycle. Instead, they need to focus on getting the customers to use more of the network. He notes:
When you’re growing the business initially, you have to do aggressive device subsidies to get people on the network. But as you approach 90 percent penetration, you move into maintenance mode. That means more device upgrades. And the model has to change. You can’t afford to subsidize devices like that.
Stephenson says the AT&T Next program, and recently introduced Mobile Share Value plans are just two of the ways his company hopes to move customers away from subsidized devices. Our readers were mostly unimpressed with Stephenson's plans. DD said "What a crock!!! The US has the slowest network speeds at the highest cost in the developed Western world. The prices AT&T are charging are outrageous and their broadband coverage is embarassing. What a scam!!!" The always colorful Mr. Luigi said "Please, somebody smack me in the face so I can be sure I haven't died and gone to hell." Spotify goes free One place where there is plenty of competition in the world of streaming music. This week, Spotify officially launched a free streaming music service for mobile devices. Spotify Mobile Free is available for the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad, and on Android-based devices. Spotify Mobile Free is ad-supported and slightly different, depending on the iOS device. On the iPhone, users are able to shuffle music from any playlist or artists' catalog. They can also create their own playlists. Tablet users can do the same, and also stream any song on demand. The arrival of Spotify Mobile Free comes at an interesting time in the world of music. Earlier this year, Apple launched iTunes Radio to take on Pandora. In the coming months, Beats is also supposed to unveil a streaming music service.

Special Report: Gift Ideas

[caption id="attachment_497441" align="aligncenter" width="484"]KaZoo stylus KaZoo stylus by Griffin[/caption] With just 10 days to go until Christmas, now is a great time to look for stocking stuffers. Brent Dirks has this covered with his latest report, "This Week In Accessories: Great Stocking Stuffers For The Apple Fan In Your Life."

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Here's the latest "iPhone Air" concept video: http://youtu.be/M64hS4hF0p0
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