Mobomo Mobisphere Roundup — May 29, 2010

The mobile tech rumor mill suggests that Apple might open up iPhone/ iPad development to tools on the Windows PC environment, and for that reason, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer will appear at Apple’s WWDC keynote next week. But Microsoft’s officially Twitter channel says it’s not true. What might be true, on the other hand, is that Microsoft’s Bing search engine could become the default one for the iPhone OS.

Meanwhile, a U.S. Justice Dept probe is looking at how Apple does business with non-music media businesses. Apple’s market capitalization just passed Microsoft’s this week, and a recent complaint from Adobe has already triggered an anti-competitive practices probe.

Probes take time and in the meantime, it’s pretty clear that Apple will be announcing a new iPhone some time in June — an iPhone that’ll be leaps and bounds, technologically, ahead of the last generation, in order to support all the new features that appear in iPhone OS 4.x.

Digitimes Research has a Q&A with senior analyst Ming-Chi Kuo about some of the iPhone rumors, but the existence of a new phone is not a rumor. In fact, BGR says in two-line post that AT&T has already confirmed to their employees that there is a new iPhone in June.

Unfortunately for consumers, AT&T seems to be upping the cost of ownership. While the new phone itself is possible going to cost only $18 to upgrade to from an older iPhone, AT&T’s ETF (early termination fee) for all smartphones has increased from $175 to $325.

BGR also says that AT&T is launching a new iPhone insurance plan that costs a ridiculous $13.99 and launches in June. That’s nearly half the cost of the data plan. There’s also a deductible fee to be paid, for some claims. Are they expecting an increase in thefts and planning to capitalize? Or are they losing exclusivity and trying to come up with new revenue streams?  Or maybe both? Considering that AT&T claims that 40% of iPhone sales are to business users, businesses might in fact approve the insurance rates and write them off against profits.

Oddly enough, this insurance is supposed to be available in the Apple App Store, but you have to sign up within 30 days of purchasing or upgrading to a new iPhone. In case you don’t feel like doing the math, that’s nearly $170/year in premiums.