iFive: AT&T Buys T-Mobile, China Hacks Gmail, Nexus S 4G Leaked, Facebook Snaps Up Snaptu, Sony’s Thunderbolt MacBook Air Rival

The week’s just starting for most of us; but for others it’s already well underway. So here’s the early news, to get you up to speed:

1. In a surprise move, AT&T this weekend revealed it has made an offer to buy the USA branch of global telecoms operator T-Mobile for about $39 billion. It will create the largest cell phone network in the U.S., but the deal isn’t closing for a year–during which time competitors, regulators, lawmakers, and the public will have a lot to say on the matter.


2. According to Google, over the last month China-based users have been reporting increasing problems with Gmail. And now Google’s spoken out to identify the culprit: A government hack that makes it look like Gmail is having a problem. It’s all about suppressing online chatter about the supposed “jasmine revolution” movement, designed to copycat the Middle East change, but it’s also compromised Google’s tool to help people find lost relatives in Japan. Google is saying it’s “politically motivated” hacking.

3. Sprint has leaked clues about an upcoming Android phone that may be key in the early battle for 4G smartphone dominance: The Nexus S 4G. As well as touting WiMax, the phone will apparently be the very first with “fully integrated” Google Voice capabilities–an interesting move by Sprint, since some commenters would say Google Voice is a huge threat to the phone networks’ current business model. The Nexus S 4G may be one of Google’s biggest weapons against the iPhone 5.

4. Over the weekend, Facebook closed a deal to buy Snaptu, for somewhere in the region of $60 to $70 million. The small London/Israeli firm has expertise in bringing complex smartphone-like features to dumber feature phones–and this is evidently a move by Facebook to bring its content to more and more cellphones around the world, probably targeting the youth market where smartphone ownership is rarer.

5. Apple‘s preponderance for releasing computer protocols that shun the mainstream is well known (Firewire anyone?), but it looks like the recent moves to promote Intel’s Thunderbolt (aka “LightPeak”) super-fast connection system has paid off: There are rumors Sony’s releasing an ultralight rival to the MacBook Air laptop that also sports the new data/power connection along with Google’s Chrome OS.

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