An epic battle of good and bad (rumor sources)!

This week's Rumor Roundup has not one, but two significant Wall Street Journal hints and allegations, about the iPhone and the purported next wave of Android tablets.

Image via TIME.com/Techland.

Your dad’s Wall Street Journal was the sheet that aimed to tell you everything you needed to know that morning to face the many-headed, irrational beast known as The Market. Your Wall Street Journal? It wants to have the very best sourcing on what your next iPhone is going to look like, and it usually succeeds.

This week’s Rumor Roundup has not one, but two significant Wall Street Journal hints and allegations, about the iPhone and the purported next wave of Android tablets. Meanwhile, Harry McCracken at TIME looks at the flip side of the coin: the frequently linked, and often horrendously wrong, site known as Digitimes.

Oh, and Chrome might be coming to iOS. Which would be weird, and seemingly unlikely.

The next iPhone is at least a half-inch bigger (diagonally)

Source: WSJ.com, citing “people familiar with the matter.”

Details: The iPhone 4S, like the iPhone 4, is 3.5 inches diagonally, across its screen. The next iPhone is rumored to be at least 4 inches diagonal. Rumors of lower prices and other changes, though, are likely untrue, according to WSJ’s sources.

Likelihood: Hard to tell. The Journal is sticking its neck out on this one, as it’s been the most frequent year-to-year rumor, and, obviously, shot down every time. But one gets the sense that the phone market in general is heading toward a slightly larger screen--not Samsung size, but a bit bigger than the current iPhone. Side note: I wish I knew a bunch of designers who worked on jean pockets, just to weigh in on this.

Get excited?: A bit more room inside that crisp Retina display is something most iPhone owners would want, minus the set that really like the way it fits into their pocket. Exciting to see the WSJ really get out there on a rumor, though.

How wrong can one tech rumor site be?

This isn’t the usual rumor-review template; I’m just going to point you to “Fact-Checking Digitimes, the Taiwanese Apple Rumor Source That Keeps Crying ‘Wolf!’” at TIME.com, and tell you to read it (or Instapaper it, or Pocket it, or whatever you normally do with longer texts). It is one of those blow-by-blow debunkings of an oft-cited source that—like certain Monty Python skits or, to a lesser extent, Family Guy routines—gets funnier as the joke just pounds and pounds on you, until you relent and laugh.

Except the real joke is that Digitimes gets a lot of links and views and exposure for every one of its barely-there “reports,” and that’s only slightly funny.

Google bringing in multiple hardware partners early on to launch waves of Nexus tablets

Source: WSJ.com, again!

Details: Until now, Google has launched new version of Android with a single hardware partner, who is given early access to the platform to create a single device that has a short exclusive on that particular Android version. Now, according to “people familiar with the matter,” Google may bring in up to five hardware partners to launch Android 5.0, with an assortment of Android tablets that give Google much more of a say in what the first wave of devices looks like.

Likelihood: I like this rumor, to the tune of about 60-65 percent likelihood. It’s a smarter strategy than hoping that your hardware partners pick up on your subtle signals and press statements, and it gets Google out of the round-robin selection of single hardware partners. Plus, those partnerships haven’t always produced barn-burning standard-bearers (Xoom!).

Get excited?: I am, though the details of Android 5.0 aren’t available in any real form yet, so it’s hard to say when or in what form these Nexus tablets will arrive.

Chrome coming to iOS?

Source: Research firm Macquarie Group, as cited in CNET’s Download Blog.

Details: Google pays Apple for every person using Google services through the iPhone and iPad default browser, Safari. I’m not quite clear on how that works, but the Macquarie Group says that’s so. Google, therefore, is looking to reduce costs by offering its own Chrome browser for iOS, with a side effect of, presumably, spreading the Chrome/Android/Drive/ecosystem presence.

Likelihood: That Google is tinkering with a version of Chrome that runs on iOS, where Safari is based on a similar WebKit source code? Pretty good. That Google will submit that browser to Apple and hope to get it approved in any reasonable time? 50-50.

Get excited?: Chrome is my main browser on nearly every screen I have, so the sync-through would be very nice, if I used iOS devices. Your mileage will certainly vary.

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