During any given year, new mobile devices are announced and released like clockwork. The Consumer Electronics Show, Mobile World Congress and other large conference herald the first round. The second round comes as the holiday shopping season approaches. Spurred by Apple’s expected announcement of the new iPhone on Sept. 12, announcement of new devices is about to hit fever pitch.
Manufacturers want to announce their newest products in such a way as to garner the consumer attention and media buzz. Apple is the king of this, oddly, by doing nothing at all. It does not talk about its new products to the press or respond to rumors and it works brilliantly. By being tight-lipped, Apple has enabled an entire cottage industry in the media that does nothing but speculate and what its new devices will look like, what new features will be in them and when they are coming.
It is via this rumor mill that the Sept. 12 date has been announced. Apple has neither confirmed nor denied the date but most people would be very surprised if Apple does not announce the new iPhone (or something similar, perhaps the iPad Mini?) in the second week of September.
Most companies cannot pull off Apple’s high-wire act. Microsoft, especially with its signature Windows product, works on three-year development cycles and gradually builds hype for more than a year before releasing the product. Microsoft and Apple may have different approaches but the companies do have one thing in common: each makes consumers wait. The waiting builds anticipation and the anticipation eventually leads to sales.
Other companies have to rely on a more traditional marketing plan to generate the type of buzz that Apple and Microsoft get. They send out fancy invitations to media weeks in advance promising the greatest new thing and promote those events heavily. Nokia, Motorola, Research In Motion, HTC, LG and others tend to follow this route to varying degrees of success.
The timing of announcements is a fickle thing. Every company wants its own moment in the sun but also wants to one-up the competitors. It becomes a game of action and reaction. Earlier this year, Microsoft announced a hasty press conference in Los Angeles to announce its Surface tablet a week before Google’s I/O conference where it announced the Nexus 7 Android tablet. In October 2011, Amazon held a surprise press conference a week before the announcement of the iPhone 4S to unleash its Kindle Fire tablet.
Amazon is expected to do the exact same thing this year and other manufacturers are getting in on the act. Shortly after the Sept. 12 date for the iPhone became less of a rumor and more of a certainty, a flurry of announcements and invitations were sent to the media.
The first shoe to drop was Nokia and Microsoft with an event on Sept. 5 in New York City where the new line of Windows Phone 8 Lumia devices is expected to be announced. A few days later, Motorola and Verizon sent press invitations to an event in Manhattan, promising the day’s “main” event. Two Motorola Android smartphones are expected to be announced. A third large device manufacturer, knowing that there would be significant media presence in New York that week, sent press invitations for Sept. 6 as well as for Sept. 10 in San Francisco (the company has asked us to keep the press invitation quiet for now). Amazon itself sent out press invitations to a Sept. 6 for an event in Santa Monica expected to be the Kindle Fire 2 or something similar. See the full calendar below.
It is a mark of Apple’s influence on the device landscape that its competitors all rush to get their own announcements in before the announcement of the new iPhone. All of the upcoming announcements are not just some weird coincidence. Companies have learned that Apple dominates the news cycle for technology publications and consumer attention for weeks after it announces new devices. Issuing announcements directly after Apple is like dropping a boulder into a flood. You might know it is there, but it is not your primary concern.
Sept. 5 -- Nokia/Microsoft, New York City
- Expected: Windows Phone 8 Lumia
Sept. 5 – Motorola/Verizon, New York City
- Expected: Droid RAZR HD
Sept. 6 and Sept. 10 – Android Manufacturer, New York City and San Francisco
- Expected: Significant new smartphone or tablet
Sept. 6 – Amazon, Santa Monica
- Expected: Kindle Fire 2 and/or other products
Sept. 12 – Apple, San Francisco (Rumor)
- Expected: iPhone 5
Sept. 18 – Motorola, London
- Expected: Intel-chip-based smartphone
Sept. 25-28 – Research In Motion, San Jose
- Expected: BlackBerry Jam Americas (formerly BlackBerry DevCon) with new features of BlackBerry 10