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Attention on iPhone as holiday lineups unveiled

Associated Press Modified: September 10, 2012 at 2:46 pm •  Published: September 10, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — Attention is turning to Apple this week amid expectations that it's announcing a new iPhone.

Amazon, Nokia and Motorola all tried to generate interest in their products last week, hoping that a head start on the buzz will translate into stronger sales.

Amazon announced four new Kindle Fire models and a new line of stand-alone e-readers, while Nokia and Motorola unveiled five new smartphones between them. Makers of consumer electronics are refreshing their products for the holiday shopping season.

Nokia and Microsoft, in particular, are trying to generate interest in a new Windows operating system out next month. The two phones announced by Nokia are among the first to run Windows Phone 8.

Sales of Apple's iPhones are still strong, though the company lost the lead in smartphones to Samsung this year. Samsung Electronics Co. benefited from having its Galaxy S III out in the U.S. in June, while Apple was still selling an iPhone model released last October. A new iPhone is expected as early as this month, allowing Apple to recapture the attention and the revenue.

Apple dominates the market for tablet computers. Seven out of every 10 tablets shipped in the second quarter were iPads, according to research firm IHS iSuppli.

Rivals have been trying to compete with smaller, cheaper models — such as Amazon's Kindle Fire. New models from Amazon include ones with screens nearly as large as the iPad's, while there's speculation that Apple will be coming out with a smaller iPad.

Here's a look at what to expect in the coming months:

— NEW IPHONE

Apple Inc. has come out with a new iPhone each year, and that's likely to continue. The new model is expected to work with fourth-generation, or 4G, cellular networks that phone companies have been building. That capability is something the S III and many other iPhone rivals already have. A bigger iPhone screen is also possible.

Apple will host an event in San Francisco on Wednesday. The topic wasn't disclosed, but the email invitation contains a shadow in the shape of a "5'' — a sign that the iPhone 5 is coming. Sales usually begin a week or two after such an announcement.

One thing is known: Apple plans to update its phone software this fall and will ditch Google's mapping service for its own, as a rivalry between the two companies intensifies.

— SMALLER IPAD

Apple has done well selling its full-sized tablet computer, which has a screen that measures nearly 10 inches diagonally. Many companies have tried to come out with iPad alternatives, but the ones that have had moderate success have tended to be those with smaller, 7-inch screens and lower price tags.

There's speculation that Apple will come out with a mini iPad this fall — possibly with a 7.85-inch screen — to compete with those competitors. It's not as much a certainty as a new iPhone, though. Apple hasn't said anything about its plans.

— REKINDLING THE FIRE

Amazon.com Inc.'s 7-inch Kindle Fire is one of the smaller tablets with decent sales. On Friday, it will sell an updated version with a faster processor, more memory and longer battery life. It will also cut the price to $159, from $199, making it far cheaper than the iPad, which starts at $399 for the 2011 version still on sale. (The most recent ones start at $499.)

Amazon is also releasing higher-end models under the Kindle Fire HD line. A 7-inch one will go for $199, while an 8.9-inch one will go for $299. There's also a $499 model that can use the 4G cellular networks that phone companies have been building. A data plan will cost an extra $50 a year. The smaller HD model will start shipping Friday, while the larger ones will be available Nov. 20.

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