The week of May 13, major players are holding events that could shake up the mobile landscape. Here's a sneak peak.
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It's shaping up to be an exciting few days in the mobile industry as overlapping events being held by Nokia, BlackBerry, and Google promise new hardware, new software, and new technologies. All three companies have kept a fairly tight lid on what will be announced, but there's plenty of evidence to point us in the right direction.
Nokia will kick things off early in the morning on May 14 with a press conference in London that will show us what's next for its Lumia smartphones. Currently, Nokia is expected to reveal one new smartphone, code-named Catwalk. The model number will likely be Lumia 930. This device will be similar in many respects to the Lumia 920 and forthcoming Lumia 928, but with some changes to the design.
For starters, the Catwalk will ditch the solid polycarbonate design that Nokia has favored on its high-end devices for the last few years. Instead, it will be assembled from a mix of polycarbonate and aluminum. Adding aluminum will come at the expense of wireless charging, however. The Catwalk will be thinner and lighter than the Lumia 920, which was roundly criticized for its hefty size and weight. It will also feature a more advanced camera, a feature Nokia believes helps differentiate its products. Last, it will be preloaded with the latest version of Windows Phone 8.
(Nokia announced the Verizon-bound Lumia 928 on Friday morning. It will be available beginning May 16. Pricing wasn't announced.)
BlackBerry is holding its annual developer conference, BlackBerry Live, from May 13 to May 16 in Orlando. CEO Thorsten Heins won't hit the keynote stage until 9 a.m. May 14. Few details have leaked about BlackBerry's plans for the week, but there will certainly be news.
First, it is likely to provide application writers with new tools to create apps for its BlackBerry 10 platform. Though the company has already made mention of a small update to BB10 (BB10.1), BlackBerry will probably talk about new features headed to its fledgling smartphone platform later this year.
On the hardware side, BlackBerry and partners AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless are expected to announce when they'll ship the Q10, the QWERTY-equipped BlackBerry smartphone. Announced earlier this year, the Q10 is on target for a late-May release in the U.S. In terms of new hardware, it is possible the company will roll out some mid-range smartphones, akin to the old Curve line, but chances are about 50-50. There's always hope that BlackBerry will offer some surprises, but that's looking less likely.
Google is going to be behind the real fireworks this week. Its annual Google I/O developer conference kicks off May 15 with a three-hour keynote that will be sure to impress.
The Android operating system is on deck for some new features, though Google isn't expected to provide a completely overhauled version of its smartphone and tablet operating system just yet. Instead of bowing Android 5.0, we're more likely to see Android 4.3, which will add features to the already excellent base of Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. What those features are is anyone's guess at this point.
Looking for a new Nexus device? Don't expect to see a Nexus 5 smartphone. Instead, it appears as though the Nexus 4 will see a minor spec update (the addition of LTE 4G) and that's about it. There will be one or two new Nexus tablets, though. First, the Nexus 7 is expected to get a major overhaul, with an improved display, more storage, and a better processor. There's also word that a Samsung-made Nexus 11 tablet will make an appearance.
On the desktop side of the business, Google's Chrome OS will surely get plenty of attention during the keynote. Google has consistently updated its line of Chromebooks, and it is possible that a new low-end laptop will make an appearance at I/O this year. There have been clues of late suggesting that Google will introduce a new version of both Google Maps and Gmail, as well.
Perhaps the one piece of software that's garnering the most pre-I/O attention is Google Babel, or Babble, or Hangouts, or whatever its revised messaging platform will be named. Reports have been coming in for months suggesting that Google plans to unify its messaging services across platforms (Android, Chrome, desktop, etc.) into one product. It will encompass text messaging, instant messaging, video chats and possibly Google Voice features.
The Google I/O keynote will begin at noon on May 15.
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