Want a smartphone for Christmas? Choices will be dizzying.
Apple will have the new iPhone 5, of course, but Nokia, Google's Motorola have introduced new smartphones. Samsung is still strong. Amazon, Microsoft, and possibly Barnes & Noble and Samsung will introduce new tablets.
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— REKINDLING THE FIRESkip to next paragraph
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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.
Barnes and Noble Inc., which makes the 7-inch Nook Tablet, may have an update this fall as well.
— MOTOROLA'S RETURN
Though it's a pioneer in the cellphone industry, Motorola hasn't had a hit since the Razr phone came out in 2004. Under new owner Google Inc., Motorola Mobility is trying to change that.
On Wednesday, Motorola announced three new smartphones bearing the Razr name. Verizon Wireless started taking orders for the first of the new phones, the Droid Razr M. It's a cheaper, smaller phone than the Razr that Motorola launched last year. The $99 Razr M will be in stores next Thursday, the day after Apple's announcement.
Motorola will have two high-end models, the Razr HD and Razr Maxx HD, later this year. It's emphasizing long battery life — up to 21 hours of talk time for the Maxx HD, or 10 hours of video streaming.
These are the first major products from Motorola since Google bought the company for $12.4 billion in May. Google, meanwhile, continues to sell a 7-inch Android tablet, the Nexus 7, made in partnership with AsusTek Computer Inc.
— CALLING ON WINDOWS
Microsoft Corp. will release a new version of the Windows operating system on Oct. 26, one that's designed to work on both traditional computers and tablet devices. A new version of the Windows Phone system is coming out, too.
Once-dominant phone maker Nokia Corp. has been struggling in the shadow of Apple and Android, and it's counting on the new Windows system for a revival. On Wednesday, Nokia and Microsoft unveiled two new devices under Nokia's Lumia brand — the 820 and the 920.
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop says the new phones will go on sale in the fourth quarter in "select markets." He didn't say what they would cost or which U.S. carriers would have them. Investors were disappointed, and Nokia's stock fell 16 percent on Wednesday.
Samsung, which surpassed Nokia as the world's largest maker of mobile phones in 2011 and overtook Apple in smartphones this year, showed off a Windows 8 phone last week. It didn't announce an availability date either.
Microsoft plans its own tablet computer, too. It's new territory for Microsoft, which typically leaves it to others to make devices using its software. Now, it will be competing against its partners.
The Surface tablet will come in two versions, both with 10.6-inch screens, slightly larger than the iPad's. 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. The Surface will go on sale on Oct. 26.
— NEW BLACKBERRYS
A year ago Research In Motion Ltd. disclosed that it was working on a next-generation phone system for the BlackBerry, which now looks ancient next to the iPhone and Android devices. It was supposed to be out in time for this year's holiday season. That won't happen.
In June RIM pushed the release of BlackBerry 10 devices into early next year, saying it wasn't ready. That means RIM will not only compete with the new iPhone and Android devices out this fall, but it will also have to contend with the new Windows devices.