- Associated Press - Friday, September 7, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) - It was a big week for gadget announcements as Amazon, Nokia and Motorola all tried to generate interest in their products before Apple’s expected announcement of a new iPhone next Wednesday.

Amazon announced four new Kindle Fire models and a new line of stand-alone e-readers on Thursday, a day after Nokia and Motorola unveiled five new smartphones between them.

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. The two phones announced Wednesday by Nokia are its first to run Windows Phones 8.

Sales of Apple’s iPhones are still strong, though the company lost the lead in smartphones to Samsung this year. Samsung Electronics Co. benefited from having its Galaxy S III out in the U.S. in June, while Apple was still selling an iPhone model released last October. A new iPhone is expected as early as this month, allowing Apple to recapture the attention and the revenue.

Apple dominates the market for tablet computers. Seven out of every 10 tablets shipped in the second quarter were iPads, according to research firm IHS iSuppli.

Rivals have been trying to compete with smaller, cheaper models _ such as Amazon’s Kindle Fire. On Thursday, Amazon announced new models, including ones with screens nearly as large as the iPad’s.

Now there’s speculation that Apple will be coming out with a smaller iPad as well.

Here’s a look at what to expect:

_ NEW IPHONE

Apple Inc. has come out with a new iPhone each year, and that’s likely to continue. The new model is expected to work with fourth-generation, or 4G, cellular networks that phone companies have been building. That capability is something the S III and many other iPhone rivals already have. A bigger iPhone screen is also possible.

Apple will host an event in San Francisco next Wednesday. The topic wasn’t disclosed, but the email invitation contains a shadow in the shape of a “5” _ a sign that the iPhone 5 is coming. Sales usually begin a week or two after such an announcement.

One thing is known: Apple plans to update its phone software this fall and will ditch Google’s mapping service for its own, as a rivalry between the two companies intensify.

_ SMALLER IPAD

Apple has done well selling its full-sized tablet computer, which has a screen that measures nearly 10 inches diagonally. 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.

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