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Upcoming gadget debuts seek holiday sales

The Yerba Buena Center for Arts in San

The Yerba Buena Center for Arts in San Francisco is the site of the Sept. 12, 2012 event that is expected to be the unveiling of the new iPhone5. (March 6, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

Think of it as the opening act at a concert: Nokia, Motorola and Amazon are expected to unveil new mobile devices this week before attention turns to a new iPhone and possibly a smaller iPad from Apple.

Makers of consumer electronics are refreshing their products for the holiday shopping season. Apple's rivals are hoping that a head start on the buzz will translate into stronger sales. Nokia and Microsoft, in particular, are trying to generate interest in a new Windows operating system out next month.

Here's a look at what to expect this fall:

New iPhone. The new model is expected to work with fourth-generation, or 4G, cellular networks, a capability many iPhone rivals already have. A bigger iPhone screen is also possible. Apple said Tuesday it will host an event in San Francisco next Wednesday, a sign that the iPhone 5 is coming. Sales usually begin a week or two after such an announcement.

Smaller iPad. Many companies have tried to come out with iPad alternatives, but the ones that have had moderate success have tended to be those with smaller, 7-inch screens and lower price tags. There's a belief that Apple will come out with mini iPad this fall -- possibly with a 7.85-inch screen -- to compete.

Rekindling the Fire. The 7-inch Kindle Fire is one of the smaller tablets with decent sales. Amazon has a major event planned for Thursday in Santa Monica, Calif. Amazon is expected to announce a new Kindle Fire and possibly other Kindle e-readers, too. Barnes & Noble, which makes the 7-inch Nook Tablet, may have an update this fall as well.

Motorola's return. Motorola hasn't had a hit since the Razr phone came out in 2004. Under new owner Google Inc., Motorola Mobility has scheduled an event Wednesday in Manhattan. It could be a new phone or a new tablet running Google's Android operating system.

Calling on Windows. Microsoft will release a new version of the Windows operating system Oct. 26, and a new version of the Windows Phone system is coming out, too. Nokia Corp. and Microsoft have jointly scheduled an announcement Wednesday. It's likely on new Windows phones under Nokia's Lumia brand.

Surface. Microsoft plans its own tablet computer, too. 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. A heavier, more expensive version will be capable of running standard Windows applications. The Surface will go on sale Oct. 26.

New BlackBerrys. Research In Motion Ltd.'s next-generation phone system for the BlackBerry was supposed to be out in time for this year's holiday season. That won't happen. That means RIM will have to compete with the myriad new devices out this fall.

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