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Tuesday, May 13, 2008, 04:20 pm PT (07:20 pm ET)

Swiss iPhone rumor; BlackBerry Thunder; Apple gay-friendly

Switzerland will be yet another carrier offering the 3G iPhone, claims a local newspaper. Meanwhile, rumors have surfaced of a "true" iPhone-slaying touchscreen BlackBerry; Google has launched a new iPhone reader beta; a study finds the iPhone still a small player on the web; and Apple has been deemed of the friendliest brands for gays and lesbians.

Paper: 3G iPhone to launch with Swisscom

Apple will roll out its upcoming iPhone update to Switzerland as part of its ever-widening international strategy, says a report in a recent issue of Swiss paper Le Matin.

A purported source at Swisscom tells the publication that the national carrier has just completed a deal with Apple to supply a 3G-capable iPhone sometime during the summer.

Le Matin also claims to be aware of the phone's new features, including two-way video chats, mobile TV, and GPS navigation, though declines to corroborate its rumors with further details.

Additionally, the paper has since followed up the report with assertions that Swisscom will use "attractive" incentives to lure new iPhone subscribers to its service, and that a high-end plan will make mobile video and other live services possible.

BlackBerry Thunder RIM's true answer to iPhone?

While most attention is centered on the BlackBerry Bold as Apple's likely opponent in the smartphone arena this year, its creator Research in Motion is quietly developing its real touchscreen alternative behind the scenes, according to a new rumor from the Boy Genius Report.

Referred to alternately as the BlackBerry Thunder or BlackBerry 9500, the device would drop the hardware keyboard that has been a staple of RIM's phones and use a large touchscreen for both typing and navigation; only buttons for calls, the BlackBerry menu, and backtracking through the interface would carry over.

The Thunder is also described a high-end, two-mode phone that would support CDMA and GSM phone services in equal measure, including very advanced data access; it would support not just HSPA on 3G networks but a future 4G service, which is speculated to be the Long Term Evolution (LTE) format being chosen by most cellular providers.

The reported details would also have RIM launch the phone in the summer that makes the Thunder a "lifetime" exclusive for both Verizon and its key partner Vodafone, delivering a marketing coup for the carriers roughly at the same time as the 3G iPhone enters its stride.

The Report has often been an accurate source of data regarding the BlackBerry, obtaining information about the Bold and other devices. However, readers should be aware that LTE isn't set to be used by any commercial network until 2009, casting doubt on the accuracy of the rumor.

Google updates Reader for iPhone

Google on Tuesday introduced a beta update to its Google Reader web news app for the iPhone.

The upgrade brings the handheld-formatted version closer in features to the full-size version and expands chosen RSS articles in place, letting users read full article without disrupting their ability to resume browsing the list of news afterwards. This also applies to marking stories for later, the company says.

While eager to unveil the update, Google adds that it won't yet automatically redirect viewers to the new page.

Report finds iPhone still small player on the web

Apple's willingness to crow about the power of the iPhone's web browser hasn't yet translated to a command of the mobile web, says a study by the young marketing firm AdMob.

Following users by the ad requests their browser makes, AdMob sees the iPhone at just 1.1 percent of all US mobile web traffic; by comparison, Motorola's aging and more limited RAZR V3 flip phone still leads with 9.1 percent. While percentages change, both phones hold the same ranks on the international level.

iPhones don't fare much better when limited to competition against similarly advanced phones, according to the researchers. The BlackBerry line makes about 47 percent of US smartphone requests and 26 percent worldwide, while Apple must make do with 5 and 6 percent shares for mobile operating systems — a share small enough to be overshadowed by the BlackBerry OS, Palm, Windows Mobile, and Symbian.

The study's authors insist, though, that Apple's very appearance in its charts is a telling sign of greater adoption and that many AdMob clients have created iPhone-specific websites.

Apple most gay-friendly tech firm in new study

Included in the same ranks as TV network Bravo, vodka maker Absolut, and jeans maker Levi's, Apple is one of the brands friendliest to a gay and lesbian audience, a new survey from PlanetOut claims.

The homosexual respondents chose the Mac maker above all other technology companies as being the most sympathetic based largely on the company's public perception, including marketing, discussions with friends, and the brand's representation by the media.

A key supplier of Apple's, Korea-based Samsung, is rated as one of the least friendly along with such company as Dunkin Donuts and Wal-Mart.

PlanetOut doesn't explain why Apple in particular has been singled out, but claims that many gay and lesbian people are "early adopters" of many products.

These users also tend to dramatically increase their support of a brand when they feel gay imagery is present, PlanetOut notes.