T-Mobile and Orange in the United Kingdom have announced plans to merge, creating the country’s largest mobile operator with a combined subscriber base of 28.4 million, or roughly 37% of all UK mobile subscribers. Among the benefits of the merger will be what Orange UK CEO Tom Alexander calls a “huge advantage” in negotiations for popular handsets like the iPhone. “We [Orange] are already the network of choice for multimedia devices, we’ve already got the biggest 3G network (which is used to deliver mobile phone broadband), now with T-Mobile we’ve got an even stronger 3G network,” Alexander told the Telegraph. “We’ve got a fantastic platform and are obviously the network of choice for all multimedia devices, including potential [sic] the iPhone in future.” The merger will be subject to the approval of both companies’ boards of directors, and from European Union regulators.
Monster and Beats By Dr. Dre have announced the new Beats Solo on-ear headphones and the Heartbeats by Lady Gaga in-ear headphones. Beats Solo will serve as an entry-level model for the Beats by Dr. Dre line, offering a lighter weight and smaller body than the full-size Beats Studio. Available in black or white, they will launch this November and will sell for roughly $180. Heartbeats by Lady Gaga are in-ear headphones with a unique design, inspired by the artist, that has them doubling as a fashion accessory. Heartbeats feature a multi-faceted glossy surface with a jewel-inspired earpiece, a flat, tangle-free cable, and an included red carrying case and assortment of eartips. Available with a metal body and either red or chrome jewel-shaped earpiece, or in a black-on-black version, Heartbeats by Lady Gaga are expected to ship in October for $100-$150. In addition, both new headphones will be available with Monster’s ControlTalk in-line remote and microphone for the iPod, iPhone, and other portable music devices.
Navigon has announced its own “Car Kit” for the iPhone. While details are scant, the mount appears to eschew GPS antenna enhancements,, speakerphone enhancements, or built-in charging capabilities of the competing TomTom kit, but is also expected to launch at a lower price when it becomes available in October.
In an interview with Develop, Sony Europe’s head of developer relations Zeno Colaco said that the company plans to offer developers of PSP Mini games—smaller games than the handheld’s traditional offerings—more help than Apple does with its App Store developers, although the company’s focus “isn’t directed straight towards the App Store.” “Right now, we’re looking for a good portfolio of games. Unlike with the App Store, we’re looking to support everyone that develops for us, instead of leaving developers out in the wilderness. We’re not immediately interested in giving developers free access and no help,” Colaco said. “There are dangers in having total open access; having six thousand applications where probably only thirty are discovered by the consumer. Some of the developers working on the App Store and PSP Minis tell us that they prefer our approach because they get more visibility.”