Nokia, Microsoft, and Google Try to Steal Apple's Thunder

There's no shortage of companies trying to steal Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) thunder this week. While Apple is widely expected to unveil a new iPhone -- and possibly an iPad Mini as well -- on Sept. 12, the week ahead is full of rivals announcing their own products.

First up this week is Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) and Nokia (Nasdaq: NOK  ) , which have announced a Sept. 5 media event. However, not to be outdone, Google's Motorola and Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) are teaming up for their own New York City press event on the same day. Oh, and let's not forget that Amazon.com has announced an event for Sept. 6 to presumably unveil a new Kindle lineup.

That's quite a bit of hyped product announcements for one week; let's dive in to what investors should expect.

Nokia's last stand?
The mobile market moves stunningly fast. It was little more than a year ago that Nokia sold more smartphones than any company in the world before Samsung passed it up. Today, it feels as if Nokia is quickly approaching a last stand for relevance.

The company had pinned hopes on its Lumia lineup of Windows Phones to boost sales. With mobile networks such as AT&T (NYSE: T  ) desperate to cut their reliance on the iPhone and its costly subsidies, the phone found plenty of marketing support. However, even after several rounds of discounts, the Lumia has yet to gain significant sales traction.

Part of the problem is that older Lumia models wouldn't be upgraded to the new Windows Phone 8 operating system, making them essentially ... well, obsolete. That situation will be resolved this Wednesday, when Microsoft and Nokia announce a lineup of Lumia phones with Windows 8 installed.

However, while Microsoft and Nokia have long been seen as the key partners behind Windows Phone 8, Nokia won't be the first company to unveil a smartphone with Microsoft's newest mobile operating system. Instead, that honor went to Samsung, which unveiled its Windows Phone 8-based ATIV S smartphone last week

The key point here: Many have labeled Microsoft the winner of the Samsung-vs.-Apple patent trial. With Android facing stiff litigation from Apple, more OEMs, including Samsung, ZTE, and Acer, could look to Windows Phone. If that prediction proves true, Nokia loses the differentiation it had hoped for adopting Windows Phone. Yet if Windows Phone doesn't take off, that means Nokia is strapped to a platform that continues to fall behind. Either way you look at it, the road ahead for the Finnish giant is challenging.

Expect the new Lumia phones from Nokia to come with a 4.3 inch screen and wireless charging. They should once again get a good amount of marketing, but with the iPhone 5 likely to launch around the same time and more focus from other rivals on the Windows Phone space, I wouldn't expect the kind of turnaround many are hoping the Lumia will provide.

Google and Verizon
Next up is Motorola and Verizon's event, to be held at 2 p.m. ET on Sept. 5. Motorola, which Google bought in a deal that closed earlier this year, has a history of partnering with Verizon on major launches. Its original Droid phone was heavily marketed in a joint effort with Verizon and helped propel the Android platform forward.

Their announcement this Wednesday shouldn't prove as monumental. Reports out of normally reliable Bloomberg say the phone being unveiled will have an edge-to-edge screen and LTE. Earlier reports had cited a successor to Motorola's Droid Razr that, while not a full-blown Droid Razr 2, would be an upgrade over the original model.

Whatever final form Wednesday's announcement takes, the key is that we'll probably see an upgrade to a very popular smartphone, but nothing that reshapes the mobile market. With new flagship phones coming out every few months, the new Motorola smartphone is likely to serve as the Android smartphone Verizon is marketing this holiday season as counter-programming to a surge in sales for the next iPhone.

Guidance for the road ahead
That's it for smartphone news in the week ahead. If you're an Apple investor, there's no shortage of storylines as the iPhone 5 gets ready to launch in the coming months. To help investors track all the threats and opportunities facing the company, we've created a brand-new report on Apple. It not only details reasons to buy and sell the company, but it also comes with continuing guidance and updates in the influential months ahead. Not only that, but you get plenty of extras, such as our new report on which iPhone suppliers are set to gain the most from the iPhone 5 launch, which is an exclusive to Apple report members that's launching this week. Get started now.

Eric Bleeker owns shares of no companies listed above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon.com. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Amazon.com, Google, and Microsoft, creating a synthetic covered call position in Microsoft, and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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