Phone makers jockey for edge ahead of new iPhone
NEW YORK (AP) — Nokia and Motorola have unveiled five new smartphones between them, while Amazon is expected to announce a new Kindle Fire this week before attention turns to a new iPhone from Apple next Wednesday.
Makers of consumer electronics are refreshing their products for the holiday shopping season. Apple's rivals are hoping that a head start on the buzz will translate into stronger sales.
Nokia and Microsoft, in particular, are trying to generate interest in a new Windows operating system out next month. The two phones announced Wednesday by Nokia are its first to run Windows Phones 8.
Motorola Mobility, meanwhile, is extending its Razr brand. That's the name of a popular clamshell phone from 2004, the last time Motorola had a hit. Apart from the name, the three new smartphones bear no resemblance to the original phone.
They are the first major devices that Motorola is launching under new owner Google Inc., which also makes the Android operating system that rivals Apple's phone software.
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. Now there's speculation that Apple will be coming out with a smaller iPad as well.
Here's a look at what to expect:
— 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 next 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 intensify.
— 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. Last week, Amazon said it has sold out of the Kindle Fire, a sign that it retooled its production lines for a successor.
Amazon has a major event planned in Santa Monica, Calif., on Thursday. Amazon hasn't said anything about what it will say, but it's expected to announce a new Kindle Fire and possibly other Kindle e-readers, too.
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