Gadget makers jockey for holiday edge


Associated Press

NEW YORK

Think of it as the opening act at a concert: Nokia, Motorola and Amazon are unveiling new mobile devices this week before attention turns to a new iPhone and possibly a smaller iPad from Apple.

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.

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 the Kindle Fire, which Amazon is expected to update Thursday. Now, there’s speculation that Apple will be coming out with a smaller iPad as well.

Here’s some of what to expect:

New iPhone: Apple Inc. has been coming 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 many iPhone rivals already have. A bigger iPhone screen also is possible. Apple said Tuesday that it 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.

Smaller iPad: Apple has done well selling its full-size 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 tend to be those with 7-inch screens and lower price tags. There’s a belief that Apple will come out with a mini iPad this fall — possibly with a 7.85-inch screen — to compete with those competitors.

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 had 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. Barnes and Noble Inc., which makes the 7-inch Nook Tablet, may have an update this fall as well.

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