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Published: Monday, 9/3/2012

Apple's rivals watching closely, plot moves

NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE
A boy checks an iPhone at an Apple booth at an electronic store in Tokyo. Several major tech companies are cramming product announcements into this holiday-shortened workweek. Nokia and Motorola Mobility, former leaders in the mobile race who are now also-rans, have scheduled events for Wednesday at which they are likely to unveil new smartphones. And the next day, Amazon is expected to introduce new Kindle devices. A boy checks an iPhone at an Apple booth at an electronic store in Tokyo. Several major tech companies are cramming product announcements into this holiday-shortened workweek. Nokia and Motorola Mobility, former leaders in the mobile race who are now also-rans, have scheduled events for Wednesday at which they are likely to unveil new smartphones. And the next day, Amazon is expected to introduce new Kindle devices.
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Back when Apple was an underdog, it had an easier time shrouding its product announcements in mystery and perhaps catching its competitors off guard. But now tech companies are watching every one of Apple's moves — and scrambling to get out in front of them.

Several major tech companies are cramming product announcements into this holiday-shortened workweek. Nokia and Motorola Mobility, former leaders in the mobile race who are now also-rans, have scheduled events for Wednesday at which they are likely to unveil new smartphones. And the next day, Amazon is expected to introduce new Kindle devices.

Sony and Samsung, among others, got a jump on things last week with announcements of new tablets and phones at a consumer electronics conference in Berlin.

But next week, the tech event calendar is largely blank — with the exception of an Apple news conference that is said to be scheduled for Sept. 12, where the company will reveal its latest iPhone, according to a person briefed on the company's plans, who declined to be named because those plans had not yet been made public.

''It seems that the rumor of an Apple announcement is having an effect on competitors' announcements, unless it's an amazing coincidence" that several events are scheduled this week and none the next, said Michael Gartenberg, a technology analyst at Gartner.

In past years it was common for technology companies to deliver product news at trade shows like the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Now some major companies have followed Apple's lead in running their own elaborate news conferences.

Fall product introductions are important to companies seeking to generate excitement ahead of the holiday shopping season. The fall has become especially jam-packed with news in recent years as both the number of companies involved and their product lines have grown, with the addition of players like Amazon and its Kindle products as well as all the companies building devices based on Google's Android operating system.

''You're getting all sorts of maneuvering by companies around the time they have to have Christmas products out there," said Michael Mace, a former marketing executive at Apple and Palm who has a new startup called Zekira. "I've got to have everything in shops in mid-November. Do I get more attention if I announce before other guys or after? How long before? If I do it in September, does stuff look like it's gotten old?"



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