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To battle iPad, iPhone dominance, companies unveiling new gadgets well before the holidays

NEW YORK — 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 of every 10 tablets shipped in the second quarter were iPads, according to research firm IHS iSuppli. Rivals have been trying to compete using smaller, cheaper models.

Sales of Apple's iPhones are strong, but the company has lost the lead in smartphones to Samsung.

Here's a look at what to expect this fall:

NEW IPHONE: Apple has adding 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. A bigger iPhone screen is also possible. Apple also plans to update its phone software this fall and will ditch Google's mapping service for its own.

SMALLER IPAD: Apple has done well selling its full-sized tablet, which has a screen that's almost 10 inches diagonally. Many companies have tried iPad alternatives, but the ones that have had moderate success are those with smaller, 7-inch screens and lower prices. There's a belief Apple will come out with a mini iPad this fall — possibly with a 7.85-inch screen — to take on those competitors.

REKINDLING THE FIRE: Amazon.com'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. Barnes & Noble, which makes the 7-inch Nook Tablet, may have an update this fall, as well.

MOTOROLA'S RETURN: Motorola hasn't had a hit since the Razr phone in 2004. Motorola Mobility has scheduled an event in New York today. No further details were available, but it will be the first Motorola product announcement since Google bought the company in May.

CALLING ON WINDOWS: Microsoft will release a new version of the Windows operating system on Oct. 26, one that's designed to work on both traditional computers and tablets. A new version of the Windows Phone system is coming out, too. Once-dominant phone maker Nokia is counting on the new Windows system for a revival.

SURFACE: Microsoft's Surface tablet, which goes on sale Oct. 26, will come in two versions, both with 10.6-inch screens. One model will run on phone-style chips, just like the iPad, and will be sold for a similar price. A heavier, more expensive version will run on Intel chips and be capable of running standard Windows applications.

Apple unveiling?

After weeks of rumors, Apple has sent out media invitations for an event — widely expected to be the launch of the iPhone 5 — in San Francisco on Sept. 12. The invitation didn't provide any information on what would be announced, but it's expected that the newest iPhone will be available for advance order almost immediately after the event, with the device to hit store shelves by the end of the month.

Los Angeles Times

To battle iPad, iPhone dominance, companies unveiling new gadgets well before the holidays 09/04/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 10:01pm]
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