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Samsung, Sony readying new devices

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Samsung Electronics Co and Sony Corp are said to be unveiling new devices next month as two of Asia's biggest technology companies try to showcase their products before Apple Inc releases new iPhones and iPads. 

Samsung's Galaxy Gear, a wristwatch-like device with features of a smartphone, and Note 3 will be introduced Sept 4, according to people familiar with the matter. Sony's latest Xperia handset, featuring imaging sensors used in its TVs and cameras, will be unveiled the same day, two other people said.

AFP photo

Samsung and Sony are introducing their devices for the holiday shopping season as they try to steal a march on Apple, which has promised “several more game changers" in the product pipeline. Apple, which has not released a new handset this year, plans to introduce new versions of its iPhone and iPad at a Sept 10 event, according to a person familiar with the matter.

"It is meaningful for Samsung to launch the product first ahead of Apple," said James Song, a Seoul-based analyst at Daewoo Securities Co. "Putting new devices out there ahead of Apple will at least have some positive leapfrogging impact on both companies."

The Samsung and Sony announcements are both scheduled two days before the start of the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin.

Samsung fell 1% to 1,282,000 won as of 11.36am in Seoul, extending this year’s decline to 16%. Sony declined 0.6% to 1,951 yen in Tokyo.

Galaxy Gear

Apple, the world's most-valuable technology company, set the standard for product announcements under founder Steve Jobs, and that has continued under Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook. The company’s releases of devices including the iPod, iPhone and iPad gained global media attention.

When Samsung introduced its flagship Galaxy S4 handset in March, the company took a page from Apple's book with a glitzy launch at Radio City Music Hall in New York that was also streamed live to video screens in Times Square. The South Korean company also plans at least two other high-end handsets this year, including a device using the Tizen operating system.

Samsung, which overtook Apple as the world's largest smartphone maker last year, next month will introduce a wristwatch-like device that can make phone calls, surf the Web and handle e-mails, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to identified before a formal announcement.

Apple iWatch

The device will be powered by Google Inc's Android operating system and go on sale this year to beat a potentially competing product from Apple, the people said. The Galaxy Gear being released next month won’t have a flexible display, though the company is continuing to work on developing a bendable screen, one person said.

Samsung, Asia's biggest technology company, is racing Sony and other competitors to create a new industry of wearable devices as the market for top-end handsets nears saturation. The global watch industry will generate more than US$60 billion in sales this year.

"It will carve a niche for sure as this is an initial product in the market," said Chung Chang Won, an analyst at Nomura Holdings Inc in Seoul. "Wearable devices could be one of the trends in the smartphone market."

Apple had a team of about 100 people working on a watch-like device, two people familiar with the matter said in February. The Cupertino, California-based company is seeking a trademark for "iWatch" in Japan.

Hirai's Plan

Sony's new flagship Xperia smartphone, developed under the codename Honami, will feature imaging technology developed for its cameras and ultra-high definition TVs, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Xperia handsets are part of CEO Kazuo Hirai's plan to revive Sony with smartphones, TVs and game consoles that connect with the company’s entertainment content. To lure customers from Apple and Samsung, the Tokyo-based company is using "X-Reality" picture-enhancement chips developed for TVs and sensors for Cyber-shot cameras, the people said.

Yu Tominaga, a Tokyo-based spokesman, declined to comment on whether a new Xperia model will be introduced before the IFA show, which runs from Sept 6 to 11, 2013.

Billionaire Daniel Loeb, whose Third Point LLC controls funds that own about 6.9% of Sony, cited Honami and other products as ways for Sony to gain market share, according to a July 29 letter to investors.

Sony this month rejected Loeb's push for a partial sale of its entertainment assets, with Hirai citing growing Xperia sales for the company's decision. The company expects to sell 42 million smartphones this year, it said.

Related search: samsung, sony, apple, iphone, new devices, smart phones, tablets

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