Monday, 3 September 2012

What to expect from the tech' giants

In the UK we've long celebrated the dearth of news in the summer months as silly season, a period in which the (somewhat removed) heir to the throne behaving like a normal 28 year old man makes headline news. Just as traditionally, the technology industry likes to celebrate the end of the summer hiatus with a raft of new product announcements. With a new iPhone and new version of Windows on the cards, I thought it was worth running down my expectations for the next couple of weeks.

Apple are still keeping us in the dark about the date for their much anticipated press conference, which is expected to be on the 12th of September. I anticipate that invites for this event will emerge just before 3pm GMT on the 5th, to coincide with the Nokia/ Microsoft presentation.

iPhone 5 (likelihood: 100%) will be launched at this event, featuring a larger 4" touchscreen (90%), LTE for the US (90%) but not other markets (50%), NFC (75%) and the usual increase in processor and bus speed. I don't expect revolution for this device, although it is faintly possible that Apple will yet again increase resolution or even introduce glasses-free 3D (highly unlikely). Siri will doubtless be enhanced.

A 7" iPad (likelihood: 50%) is also on the cards, with capacity probably capped at 32Gb (50%). I'd expect US LTE to be an option (75%), unless Apple go for a true "iPad Mini" with universal connectivity reserved for the full fat, full price device. I expect a price point around $250 for the most basic, 8Gb Wifi version. I also expect it to be launched some time in October in order to preserve the iPhone 5's thunder.

Microsoft and Nokia will kick off the season on the 5th, shortly after Apple have stolen their thunder with a teasing invite to their September 12th event. It will come as no surprise that the new Windows 8 smartphones (100%) will be announced by a combination of Stephen Elop and his future boss at Microsoft. Hardware will play second fiddle to software in this release as the Lumia is already the leader in this area - expect robust, all metal casings and a bright, high resolution display. I expect the Lumia name to be superceded (75%) by something new and catchy... if you're Finnish. "Lumia", it's fair to say, hasn't really captured consumers' imaginations and is lacking flair in comparison to "Galaxy" or "One". Frankly, it feels very old fashioned and may be part of the reason for the device's limited success.

I don't expect a Nokia tablet (25%). Microsoft will instead show off Surface again (50%).

Amazon are on next, on the 6th, with at least two new products rumoured. Fire 2 (90%) is the most likely. I expect it to retain the same casing as the existing 7" device (90%), gaining faster processing and a new UI (75%) at the same ultra-competitive price point.

A 10" Fire 2 is also a strong possibility (75%). This device - if launched - will almost certainly have the same hardware as the 7" device and again, be very competitively priced.

Recent news also suggests a minor update to the Kindle Touch ereader (90%) to enhance the display quality and touchscreen performance with a new "paperwhite" display that looks even more like paper. Shame airlines don't believe that...

Finally, there is the outside possibility of a Kindle smartphone (10%). If this was to emerge I'd expect it to be more Galaxy note than iPhone 4S, featuring a larger, more media friendly display. I doubt we will see this much rumoured device in September, however, as Amazon lacks the cash flow to push too many things simultaneously.

It promises to be an interesting 2 weeks!

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