Looking To Take The Bite Out Of Apple

While speculative bytes continue to swirl around what Apple has coming –- yesterday it sent out formal invitations to a widely anticipated press event on Sept. 12 –- Amazon is making a lot of news of its own this week, and Microsoft and Nokia will reportedly unveil new Lumia smartphones for the Windows Phone 8 mobile OS in New York this morning. Oh, and Google and Motorola will pull back the curtain on some Android devices later today, MarketWatch reports.

“I'm reasonably convinced that the new [iPhone] will be a bit taller than the iPhone 4s, will connect to cellular carriers' faster 4G networks and will sport a new smaller connector than the one used on current iPhones, iPads and iPods. And without a doubt, the phone will run Apple's new iOS 6 operating system, which will also work on older iPhones,” writes the San Jose Mercury News columnist Larry Magid.

“Although the other tech events are stealing ‘a little slice of [Apple's] thunder,’” BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis tells the Los Angeles Times’ Andrea Chang, “Apple's announcement will still get the most attention. They're giving other people a chance to front-run it, that's all," he said. "We'll see what everyone else can do."

And, as informed as some of the speculation always appears to be, you can usually count on Apple to pull a white rabbit out of the hat, Magid says, because “the executives in Cupertino love the speculation because it keeps people talking and writing about the company and its products, and creates a sense of anticipation. It also keeps customers from buying from the competition if they believe a new Apple product is about to launch.”

As for Nokia, it has put all its eggs into the Windows 8 basket, observesSky News’ Katie Stallard, “a risky strategy for a company that once dominated the market, with 49% smartphone share at its height in 2007, but which now accounts for just under 10%.” 

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop says the company wants to send the message that "we have clearly put our best efforts, our best engineering, best innovation and intellectual property into these products." Indeed, he tells John D. Stoll, Sven Grundberg and Anton Troianovsk, "we've just polished a couple of gems." 

Separately, Nokia yesterday announced that it was adding free Internet radio service to its Lumia smartphones in the U.S., the AP reports.

Investors, meanwhile, didn’t buy Netflix’ pooh-poohing of the deal Amazon cut with EPIX, which has Paramount, Lionsgate and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer under its distribution umbrella, for its Prime Instant Video service. The deal will double the number of entertainment titles on Amazon’s streaming service, including blockbusters such as "The Avengers," "The Hunger Games" and "Mission: Impossible."

A Netflix spokesman says it decided not to renew its own exclusive deal with EPIX “because the premium channel's content is available elsewhere through TV Everywhere services that are offered to cable subscribers -- and therefore not truly exclusive,” Dawn C. Chmielewski reports in the Los Angeles Times. Plus, “the programming accounts for only about 5% of viewing hours.”

Nonetheless, Netflix stock dropped more than 6% on the news and most of the analysts the Hollywood Reporter’s Paul Bond speaks to say the Amazon-EPIX arrangement amounts to “a competitive blow against Netflix.”

Amazon is expected to unveil its Kindle Fire 2 tomorrow. It has had the most success of any tablet competitor to Apple’s iPad because of its smaller size and cheaper price (by about $300), points out CNN MoneyTech’s Julianne Pepitone, but it “may be doomed” if Apple releases a similarly sized and priced iPad next month, as has been rumored. 

The Wall Street Journal’s Greg Bensinger reported last week that a new version of the Amazon tablet might be subsidized by advertising, thereby cutting the price. Other speculation revolves around better resolution and larger screen size on a device that will reportedly be called the Kindle Blaze. 

Writing in Forbes.com, technology industry analyst Patrick Moorhead says his sources confirm a Times of India report that Motorola will announce today a non-Intel-based smartphone in the U.S. called the Droid Razr M 4G LTE that runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon-based technology. Moorhead goes into some detail about such matters as “Intel not having LTE now hurts in the U.S. market but doesn’t have any appreciable impact in the rest of world.” But this will start to change next year and “Intel will need to deliver on a strong LTE solution to ensure they can continue to grow their footprint.” 

One would expect the press conference, which BGR’s Zach Epstein will be live blogging, to be a bit jazzier on the addition of an Android device to Motorola’s lineup. 

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