It's time to talk about the holiday season.
In fact, it's a bit late to be talking about the holiday season,
believe it or not. Companies used to show off their best contenders
for year-end wallet share around February, and ship them out to
stores by late summer. Now, real-world stores matter less.
Corporate secrecy cloaks new products, or tries to. And the product
cycle is way too fast for the old retail calendar.
So, there could still be some surprises in the approaching holiday
season. Here's what we know is coming, and what we only suspect may
arrive in time.
First, some of the known contenders:
The Apple (
) iPhone 5C
The Apple iPhone 5C was seen as an answer to critics who thought
that Apple should add a lower-cost phone to its lineup, especially
for emerging markets, where shoppers are frugal and carrier
subsidies are rare.
Then the 5C came out, and it was not so cheap. A $600 phone is not
a low-end alternative when various other models sell for under
But in the US, an iPhone 5C can be had for $50 or so, depending on
which competing carrier gets desperate from day to day.
And that has given rise to expectations that the 5C, with its
choice of pastel plastic shells, could be a big hit for teenagers
in the upcoming holiday season.
The Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) Galaxy Gear
We may know soon whether "wearable tech" is a great idea or just a
gleam in the eyes of a few techno-geeks. The one to beat this
season, at least in terms of sheer hype, is the Samsung Galaxy Gear
At $299, it's not all that expensive as a watch, and look what else
it does: You can see missed calls, check messages, take pictures,
even talk into it, just like Dick Tracy!
To which many reviewers are saying, "Yeah, so what?" This is, as
David Pogue points out
New York Times
, basically half a computer. It works only in conjunction with
another, more functional device, namely, a Samsung phone or tablet,
and even then only two of the latest models are compatible.
Still, you never know what's going to appeal to consumers in search
of the next cool thing.
Samsung has plenty of competition. Among the big names are
) Motorola-branded MotoActiv, and the
) SmartWatch 2.
The Apple iWatch remains the Sasquatch of smartwatches, and may
well be a figment of the collective imagination. As of today,
a rumored smartwatch
from Google is also getting some buzz. Tech blogs are reporting
that the company will announce a Google Nexus smartwatch, dubbed
Gem, October 31.
) Kindle Fire HDX
In a very crowded field of tablets, Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX 7
tablet has gotten a lot of attention.
First, there is its unique "Mayday" button, a commitment to instant
customer service on demand and on screen. The device also is
getting strong reviews for its souped-up speed in a smaller,
thinner, lighter form. And the price is right: $229.
Still, it's one of a number of smaller, lighter, cheaper tablets
that various companies hope will catch on this year. Among them is
the Google Nexus 7, which matches Amazon's price at $229.
We've been hearing about 4K television for a few years now, but few
of us have seen them off a showroom floor. They're also known as
ultra high definition, and they boast a picture that is four times
as sharp as the now-standard high definition.
Unfortunately, there's not a lot of content out there that's worthy
of the device. But the real problem has been price.
This year, prices on ultra high def TVs are finally coming down to
earth, with many manufacturers offering jumbo-size models for about
(OTCMKTS:SHCAY), and Sony are among those with products in the
The Maybe List
And now, a few of the products that may show up in time for the
holidays, or may be delayed into next year. Or, just possibly, they
exist only in the minds of the tech media.
This part is definitely fact:
(INTC) pulled a surprise last month, announcing a whole new family
of chips called Quark. Tiny in size and frugal in power usage, the
chips are designed to power miniature gadgets, like wearable tech,
home-based devices, or goofy electronic toys for all ages.
But we haven't seen any products that actually use those chips yet.
Intel executives have hinted that devices built with Quark can be
expected this season.
It's a wild card, but one with prodigious potential for powering
cool stocking stuffers.
Amazon is about to introduce a set-top video-streaming device,
according to a
report in the
Wall Street Journal
A device for the jumbo screen in the home would, of course, fill in
a crucial gap in Amazon's plan for total world domination of all
media. And, according to the report, it would support video and
music streaming from other services as well as its own.
This gadget may do nothing that cannot already be done with other
products. But this is Amazon, so it probably will be priced cheaper
than the competition in order to gain market share and boost Amazon
Prime membership. That means less than $50, if it's going to
compete with the lowest-price Roku device.
Meanwhile, reports of an Amazon smartphone have popped up yet
again, and this time they include details that, as W.S. Gilbert
would say, add verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing
The rumor of an Amazon smartphone has in fact morphed into reports
two smartphones are planned
, a low-cost basic model that may be ready before the end of the
year, and a souped-up model for next year.
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