Look out: 8 big tech announcements we're expecting this fall

Look out: 8 big tech announcements we're expecting this fall

Summary: Expect a busy, and possibly memorable, autumn for the tech industry. If the Samsung Galaxy Gear or the iPhone 5S failed to fire you up, here are eight more product launches on the way.

Image: iStockphoto/studiovision

The spring and summer of 2013 has been the most tepid period of technology news I've seen in the 14 years that I've been doing this. Thankfully, the action has finally started to heat up in September and there is a stream of new product announcements we're expecting in the weeks ahead.

If Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch and Apple's new iPhones didn't get you excited, then don't start whining about about tech innovation (or lack thereof) just yet. We've put together a list of the most interesting new devices that are on their way this fall.

1. New Apple iPad and iPad Mini

Look for an iPad event in October. The full-size iPad will get the new 64-bit A7 processor that Apple just announced in the iPhone 5C. That will open up greater capabilities in the iPad and make it an even larger threat as a PC replacement. The big question is whether the iPad Mini will be upgraded to a Retina display.

2. New Amazon Kindle Fire tablets

The fact that Amazon quietly released the new Kindle Paperwhite on September 3 points to the fact that the Kindle Fire tablet is now its flagship product. Expect a much bigger announcement when Amazon unveils the new 7-inch Kindle Fire soon, possibly before the end of September. Will Amazon take the $159 base price even lower? You know that it can, it will. I say look for the price to drop to at least $149.

3. New Google Chromebooks

While the PC market as a whole continues its downward slide, sales of Chromebooks are gaining momentum. That's little surprise. The price is right (most are under $300) and the platform has gotten far more functional over the past 12 months. That's why Acer, ASUS, HP, and Toshiba indicated this week that they will soon be releasing a new wave of Chromebooks based on Intel's hot new Haswell processor. Watch for Samsung to update its best-selling Chromebook this fall as well. But, is Lenovo going to finally announce a mainstream Chromebook soon? That would likely attract more Asian customers and business users. Throw in the latest developments in Chrome Apps, and there's finally lots of interesting stuff happening in the ChromeOS ecosystem.

4. Microsoft Surface 2

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The first generation of Microsoft Surface tablets were a market flop. Microsoft had to take a $900 million write-down on the experiment, and eventually dropped the price to sell off inventory. Nevertheless, lots of professionals are happy with the Surface Pro. I think of the Surface Pro as less of a tablet and more of an innovative take on the laptop. But, since Surface Pro launched earlier this year, it's Surface RT that is on track for a fall update, likely renamed Surface 2. This week I received an invite to a Surface event on September 23 in New York. Look for an update to the low-end Surface (possibly powered by Intel Haswell) coming out of that event.

5. Google Nexus 5

Google regularly releases a Nexus device near the end of the year to show off its latest Android software update. Last year's Nexus 4, with a price tag of $299 (unlocked), was so popular that it faced supply shortages. The 4 in Nexus 4 designates the 4-inch screen size. Since the top of the line Android devices have moved to 5-inch screens, the expectation is for this year's Nexus phone to be the Nexus 5, and that may have been accidentally confirmed by Google in its promo video for Android 4.4 KitKat. Look for the Nexus 5 announcement in the October-November timeframe. It will likely be produced by either LG or Motorola.

6. Apple Mac Pro

Apple has stated that the latest version of Mac OS X, dubbed "Mavericks," will launch this fall (it's coming in October, according to the latest report). We should expect that the company will also roll out new hardware to show it off, but the new Mac Pro is the only hardware that is confirmed (see video). While professionals and power users will drool over the Mac Pro, the big unknown is whether Apple will also extend its Retina display to more Macbooks as well as the iMac. Look for the Mac unveilings to be paired with the expected iPad event in October.

7. Microsoft/Nokia phablet

A Nokia phablet has been rumored throughout 2013. Microsoft's recent announcement that it is acquiring Nokia's smartphone business is unlikely to derail those plans. Phablets sales are exploding in Asia and the stylus is one of the drivers of Samsung's market-leading Galaxy Note phablet. Microsoft has intellectual property and experience in pen computing dating back to its original Tablet PC and Windows CE devices. That makes it a natural fit for the phablet market. Nokia will reportedly unveil a 6-inch Windows Phone on Sept. 26 in New York, but that one does not appear to include a stylus. A true pen-capable Galaxy Note competitor from Microsoft may have to wait until 2014.

8. New Apple product

In Apple's Q2 earnings call, CEO Tim Cook said "Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software and services that we can't wait to introduce this fall." That covers the iPhone, iPad, and Mac updates we've already talked about. But in that call, Cook also touted "the potential of exciting new product categories." That indicates Apple could still have something new to show us as well. The three most likely candidates are an Apple iWatch, an Apple HDTV set, or a 6-inch Apple phablet.  

Which of these product launches are you most fired up about? Is there anything big that's not on our list that you are expecting? Jump in the comments and let us know.

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Topics: Mobility, Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft

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  • IOS is not a real threat to Windows yet...

    Until IOS can multitask (ie run two apps at once on the screen), it won't replace general productivity devices like Windows Desktops and Laptops en mass. I tried. I mean I really tried to use my iPad to replace my laptop/desktop, and I just could not be as productive. I have two 24" monitors on my desk and all of my coworkers have the same setup. Unless the iPad can provide the functionality to be used with a docking station that can not only mirror to a screen, but provide a 2 monitor experience with at least 2 apps, it won't replace the Windows infrastructure.
    • tablets can replace PCs for people who don't need a PC

      The PC in the past was the only device. Now we have other choices and are better in many ways.

      Many people are realizing they don't need a full windows desktop. But, people should use the tablet for what it is - do not try to use it as a desktop replacement.
      At work, I have a dual monitor powerhouse tower computer - helps heat the office. I would never have any interest whatsoever in trying to dock a wimpy phone or tablet and use that as a replacement. What's the point - so I can have all my life's data on this one device? No thanks. You need to back it up anyway. Might as well use the cloud.
      • True but.....

        The one thing that has pissed me off about iDevices is when you have an issue, espeially with OTA one of the first things Apple CC requests is plugging in to iTunes. I have yet to have that problem with any Android.

        So to fix the latest issue with my wife's iPad3, I plugged it into a Surface Pro.
        Chuckle :-)
        • Surface RT

          Your wife's Surface Pro never has problems? What a revelation.
        • Good for you

          Smart move! Good job ... :)

          I hate any over-priced thing that starts with an i ..., and would never buy an i-product.
          But that's my personal preference, and, of course the family's preference because they come to me for advice on what PC, tablet, or smart phone to get!

          I have made Excel sheets / templates for comparisons, so they see the advantage quickly and go for the HTC, Samsung, Nokia, etc.
          I love my Nokia phone, especially the 41 megapixel camera.
      • iOS and Android tablets cannot replace PCs but many, if not most, ...

        ... of the things the average consumer used to do with the PC can now be done with a tablet. This is due to advances in hardware that no one (except writers of science fiction) dreamed possible just ten years ago. The only thing that keeps a PC in a lot of households today is dependence upon that one "killer app" which is available only on a Windows or Macintosh system.

        Microsoft knows it must find a way to get into the tablet business in order to continue to have relevance for consumers but, even without consumers, Microsoft's future is safe. Why because "the cloud" on which tablets are dependent is dependent upon servers running Windows (and YES, UNIX/Linux!)

        The Surface RT is one way into the tablet market. At it's new price-point, it competes nicely with both high-end Android and Low-end iOS devices. Windows Phone has just climbed into the #3 slot by platform - though just barely beating out BlackBerry, in #4.

        At the high end of this market, the Surface Pro competes with the MacBook Air and in the middle, traditional Windows OEMs are introducing Windows 8 tablets of varying sizes and prices.

        There are always trade-offs between this device and that. For me, as an IT professional, the Surface RT provides the compatibility I need to access both my Windows Resources and it meets my tablet needs. Were I in the market fore a Notebook Computer, I expect that the Surface Pro would be my device of choice.
        M Wagner
        • It's more then just that"killer app" that keep PC's in homes.

          it's the physical size and the ease of use that I see it still being used for more often when doing "large" school products or long work time projects.

          The large form factor of the PC makes it an ideal device for long term projects, from what I have seen, when jumping between Word, and reference materials on the internet, cut and paste, printing, ect.
          William Farrel
    • Seriously? 1% applicable...

      I like how you take a 1% instance and pretend that this exemplifies the the general market. IOS and Android have ALREADY replaced Windows in millions of instances. Witness the decimation of the PC market.

      So, like, passenger cars will never take off cuz they can't haul multi-ton loads like my 18-wheeler. And because they won't work for my tiny unrepresentative use case, that must mean they won't work for the world!
      • That sounds impressive...

        ... until you realize that there are over a billion Windows PCs being used in the world.

        When you someone who owns an Android or iOS device, then high chances are, they also own a Windows PC.

        I see many people with tablets and/or smartphones, but they keep always keep a PC for typing tasks and work-related purposes.

        Does this mean that mobile devices can't replace their full-power brethren?

        Of course not.

        It just means that while it's possible, it doesn't mean that everyone holds the same opinion as you do.

        Saying that two smartphone platforms will decimate the PC industry is like claiming that motorbikes will overtake automobiles just because they take less fuel and space.

        However, there's a thing called user-preference, and most users are quite comfortable with their notebooks and desktops right now.

        While that could shift over the years, the fact remains that Android and iOS devices are still very much complementary devices.
        • The questions which seems to remain unanswer

          1) Are the bulk tablets being purchased as a replacement for the PC or do most consumers consider it a companion device to their PC?

          2) Second question. What percentage of tablet buyers do not own a PC? In other words, are some buyers purchasing tablets instead of PCs because they are easier to use and can meet all of their needs?

          The answers to these questions help us define what "post-PC" really means. It might be nothing more than the fact that today's PCs last longer. If the PC market is near a saturation point and one can choose to put off buying a PC or buying a shiny new tablet, maybe that's what they do without giving up their PC.
          M Wagner
          • PCs and tablets

            i own an iPad3, a Mac, a Macbook and a PC. I am sure there are a few million power users like myself, but we still represent a small percentage of the market. People like us will ALWAYS have Mac /PCs and iPads, and will use upgrade our iPads as they become more powerful. We will be more productive on the road.

            However, I know a lot more people who used to use a PC for emails and writing letters, but have switched over to iPads. Most of these people will not need any more power than today's machines. That explains why iPad sales have already tapered off. Unless iPads can show a killer app that is enticing enough and easy enough to learn, these users will not upgrade until their batteries get too old to keep.
        • Makes sense

          I don't think the tablets or the smart phones are going to replace the PC (desktop or even the laptop) anytime soon.

          The flexibility of the desktop is unmatched by the rest of the devices (hardware upgrades is a big one), ability to hold multiple drives with 4TB capacity, multiple operating systems (due to multi-drives), processor power and speed (especially in HD video processing, engineering math, design, CAD, ...).
          The tablet (or the smart phone) is for what it is ... a mobile device. You can go on the web, view grandkids pictures,view videos on YouTube, listen to music, read a document, reply to email from home reminding you to bring some milk on your way home, ..., etc.

          But that is not what the engineering and the business worlds use the PC for, hopefully.

          Even laptops, with i7 processors (or equivalent) cannot replace the desktop, yet.

          So Windows and the desktop will be there for quite sometime, and let's hope that Microsoft has learned a lesson (with the Windows 8 blunder), and will soon go back to the real desktop Windows, and make Windows 8 for mobile devices only.

          I saw an offer today for Windows 8 Pro, along with another full computer security
          package for 5 PC's (for the latter), all for less than $20, at Newegg's shell shocker!!!
      • A toy isn't a replacement for a full blown

        PC. You overlook the limitations sure it works for a percentage of people but a large number of users want the capability to do more. Would you buy a truck for work that only made right turns? That's where windows 8.1 comes in. You should be able to do it all from one device! You shouldn't have to go out and buy a new IPAD or NEW Kindle to obtain more features.
        • iOS = toy, Android = PC

          Android-powered devices aren't replacing PCs because they *are* PCs. Not Windows PCs, but PCs. They do all the things PCs do, like
          * Let multiple users sign on
          * Multitask
          * Allow default applications to be replaced by 3rd party alternatives
          * Allow codecs and drivers be installed to extend the built-in functionality
          * Allow applications to be "side-loaded" off of media or downloaded from the Internet.
          * Etc.

          So, it looked for a while like the iPad was going to hit PC sales. But then along came the PC and *crushed* the iPad (insofar as market-share is concerned). What happened was, the market *demanded* PCs, because people *want* PCs. It has some room for toys, but not nearly as much as for real PCs. MS wasn't really ready with a viable competitor in this new space, so an alternative PC platform (Android) filled the void. Now, in the tablet space (which I would define as battery powered, portable, touch-screen computers) Windows devices are the clear #2 and represent the "high end", Android is the clear #1 and represents the "low end", but iOS is a distant third.

          In short, the post-PC era ain't here yet, and is showing no signs of arriving...ever.

          The post *Windows* world on the other hand, well, that is starting to happen.
          x I'm tc
          • Only some things

            If I'm reading or just killing time watching a movie, yes they are great. But if I'm editing a movie for my phone or tablet I'm using my desktop. Anything more than reading or watching, and I want a PC.
      • The IT hegemony is threatened

        "Saying that two smartphone platforms will decimate the PC industry is like claiming that motorbikes will overtake automobiles just because they take less fuel and space."

        No, that's not what I was claiming. I choose my metaphor carefully. Cars do most of what most people need to do. Motorcycles do not. It's about utility. Tablets do what most people need to do. They don't need the overkill of a full blown PC 18 wheeler.

        Existence of the remains of a prior hegemony is not proof of future need. Previously people bought full blown computers because that's what was only available.

        So many responses like these sound like people who are alarmed that their IT territory is being threatened. But most consumers aren't constrained by a Microsoft run IT bubble.

        The PC industry is not *going* to be decimated, it already *is* being decimated. Look at sales numbers, we're not talking future, we're talking already. Sales of tablets will exceed PCs this year. All those PCs didn't not get sold because people decided tablets and smartphones wouldn't do what they needed.

        And please stop pretending that I'm saying there's no place for PCs because of the existence of tablets. That's a straw man. But what is undeniable is that for many people, a tablet is sufficient to obviate the purchase of a PC. Sure some will have a PC and a tablet. For *many* the tablet is sufficient, and those represent sales of PCs that are not going to happen.

        Making a cranky argument about how you can't, can't, can't do .net programming, have multiple monitors, or some other personal pet preference on a tablet isn't a refutation regarding the general market. This isn't about you. It's about the many.

        As tablets get more powerful and things get more cloud based, the situation is only going to become more pervasive. For most people tablet + optional keyboard will be the same as a full computer, therefore no need to buy a full blown computer.
      • Backwards analogy

        The 18-wheeler is the limited vehicle: limited cab space for anyone except the driver & maybe 1 or 2 passengers, limitations on where it can drive (low clearance under some bridges & overpasses, weight limitations on some bridges & roads, narrow lanes on some roads that prevent access), limitations on parking (99% of parking spaces are *not* designed for an 18-wheeler, let alone one with an attached trailer...& most businesses with parking lots big enough for it to straddle 10 spaces to "park" have signs prohibiting said trucks from using those lots), limitations on refuelling (some cars are gasoline-powered, some diesel, some hybrid or even all-electric...but over 99%, if not all 100%, of the 18-wheelers are diesel-powered only; and that's even forgetting that the average non-truck-stop gas station doesn't have room for a semi to pull up to its pumps), & of course the limitations on driving one (requires a separate CDL to operate one in addition to your standard driver's license). And let's not forget that, per mile, delivery by 18-wheeler is only 2nd in cost to air cargo delivery (both in actual cash & in fuel expenditure); if you're willing to wait an extra day or so, sending it via train is much, much cheaper -- & for international shipping, unless you really need it superfast, you'll save a ton of money shipping it on the ocean instead of by airplane.

        In this case, smartphones & tablets are the semis of PCs, more efficient per pound/kilo at what they do (access email, access social media, perform Internet searches, accessing *single* apps at a time, accessing data stored "in the cloud"), but their specialization makes it harder to adapt them to tasks outside their specialty (i.e. viewing multiple apps/documents simultaneously on the same screen, greater local storage capacity *and* options, etc.).

        Yes, it may sound like that points primarily to business...but business customers is how the big PC manufacturers (including Apple) traditionally have made their money. For many years, people that didn't necessarily have a PC in their own house would have access to one as part of their job -- & not necessarily because they were in a "tech field". And while retail might benefit from the use of tablets in place of "traditional" PCs, those tablets aren't replacing "traditional" PCs so much as they're replacing specialized PoS (Point of Sale) machines (i.e. the cash registers at a department store), or even plain pen-and-paper notepads (i.e. the notepad a server uses to write down your order in a restaurant); they're not replacing the full-scale PCs used back in the main office to process the daily sales, purchases, payroll, & other operations necessary for the running of the business, especially not for mid- to large-scale corporations.

        And even your typical non-tech user won't necessarily be able to replace their laptop or PC with a tablet. My parents, for example, tend to primarily use their home PC to look up information on the Internet, or order the occasional plane tickets to go see my sister & her family. But one of their hobbies is tracking our family history. Not only am I not aware of any stand-alone apps out there that would take the place of the full-blown PC-based apps for handling that data, but over the decades they've stored data in multiple files; handling multiple files simultaneously is *not* a hallmark of tablets & smartphones. So, the chances of them ditching a home PC for a tablet are going to be pretty non-existent.

        But in case that's too limiting of an example for you, consider these personal ones as well:
        -- my mother-in-law is about as non-techy as you can get, & at least once a month either has a question on how to do something basic (i.e. moving a file from the hard drive to a flash drive) or that she had a message come up on the PC that she doesn't understand. However, one thing she's really good at on the PC is working with photo apps. Every year, everyone in the family gets a calendar she creates with photo collages of events that have happened during the year. I'm not talking about 1 or 2 photos per month, I mean at *least* 10 or so photos on the top page for each month. While I've seen plenty of apps that let you manipulate *single* photos, or let you organize your photos into folders, I have yet to see a tablet/smartphone app that lets you create multiple photo collages that not only pull photos in from multiple sources (including external, non-cloud sources) but also allows you to print to the default printer without having to pay some 3rd-party to print everything for you. And while video-chat apps are available on smartphones & tablets, I have yet to see one with a decent enough screen size & webcam that matches the ability of her laptop to let us video chat with my brother-in-law when he's deployed. Even if the camera was big enough for him to see us clearly, the screen sizes are way too small for us to see him, nor do the speakers & microphones have the performance required.
        -- Although she wouldn't describe herself as a "techy", my wife is very comfortable working with PCs, & I consider her to be very tech-savvy. As a professor at the local college, she's expected to do a lot of the "administration" portion of her workload from home. She uses her iPod to keep up-to-date on her work emails. If it's something simple, she'll just respond on the iPod. If it involves reviewing files submitted by colleagues, or when one of the students is having issues with the online assignment component, she moves to her laptop or our home PC, because a) she needs the ability to flip back & forth between multiple apps (or even view them side-by-side), and b) because some of those systems "just don't work" on iOS.

        Two examples that, by virtue of their very ordinary sources, are far from limited in their scope & applicability to the rest of the world. And both demonstrate that, for many users out there, tablets & smartphones may provide nice *supplementary* tools, they still can't (& possibly never will) replace "traditional" PCs for many users.
        • Still thinking in the mode of the old hegemony

          You really are straining too hard for your analogy to work. The PC is the big heavy box taking up a lot of space with it's mostly empty bays, big power supply, noisily eating up power, w/ excess expansion ports, etc.

          Again, you're making the mistake of taking your pet use case and generalizing to the mass market. Just because you can't find an app that does things that you or a few people you know insist upon doing, in an old paradigm, doesn't mean that the tasks that *can* be accomplished on small devices, in the paradigm which they implement, aren't sufficient for *most* people.

          That the cloud doesn't have DVDs isn't a failing of the cloud. Cloud storage makes DVDs obsolete for most people. Witness Netflix. If you insist upon storing shelves of physical DVDs locally for all the movies you watch, that's your own business.

          The functionality is only going to increase as time goes by. There are cloud photo apps. There are even cloud video editing apps. People are already storing, managing, and sharing their objects in the cloud, Flickr, Dropbox, etc. Plug in to a HDMI port for a bigger screen. CPU will cycles shift to the cloud, like with X Terminals.

          The current tablet and smartphone devices are the arrows pointing to that future.
    • The iPad was intended as a supplemental device

      It is fully capable of many content creation tasks, but as everyone is so quick to point out, it can't do EVERYTHING. On the other hand, the tablet CAN replace laptops that are used simply as mobility devices--a purpose for which the vast majority were used. The laptop itself is little less than a portable desktop and really has been too much machine for most places wherein it was used.

      Give the iPad time. There are patents pending that do exactly what you want the iPad to do.
      • Ipad and multitasking

        The Ipad has been around for quite a while and still can't multitask. Android has been able to multitask for quite some time. I don't think the Ipad will ever be able to multitask based on the way it has developed.