Apple's not the only technology giant that knows how to be coy when it comes to upcoming product announcements. Google sent out a colorful press invitation illustrating the Manhattan skyline, but provided few details other than the date and time, Oct. 29 at 10 a.m. EST; the location, Basketball City at Pier 36 in New York City; and a hint that the assembly will concern the company's Android operating system. The announcement will also be streamed live on YouTube, according to the press invite.
The tagline for the event, "The playground is open," seems fitting, considering it will be held at Basketball City, a premier hoops facility with multiple locations across the United States, but the public will be left guessing until the end of the month what the event will entail. The playground referred to could reference Google's Play store, where Android users can download apps to smartphones and tablets.
The event could also feature announcements regarding the latest update to the Android operating system, Jellybean 4.1. The event is scheduled for the same day as Microsoft's launch of Windows Phone 8, the next generation of the Windows Phone operating system. That fact alone reveals little more than the competitive nature of the technology industry, which often tries to draw attention away from rival announcements with alternative, often splashy media events. There is also the possibility that the announcement could concern a tablet device, as it comes after an Apple event scheduled for Oct. 23 that is widely expected to involve a smaller version of Apple's popular iPad tablet, informally dubbed the iPad Mini.
On Oct. 17, the Taiwan-based tech blog DigiTimes quoted anonymous sources within the supply chain located in Taiwan who claimed Google would release a 32GB version of its Nexus 7 tablet, which they said would be priced at $99, sometime in the fourth quarter.
The device, which the sources said would be produced by Taiwan-based Quanta Computer, will be equipped with an ARM single-core processor developed by China-based WonderMedia Technologies, and a display panel made by Taiwan-based HannStar Display. "If Google launches such a $99 tablet, China-based white-box vendors of inexpensive tablets are expected to be under heavy competitive pressure," the sources told the publication.
If rumors of a tablet release prove to be true, the entry of a $99 tablet into an already competitive market could heighten the stakes for all companies involved, including Apple, Samsung and a slew of other computer manufacturers, including Microsoft, which just this week revealed pricing for its Surface tablet.
Analysts at IT research firm IDC predicted earlier this year that the launch of tablets from Apple competitors and the release of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system would result in a competitive, robust market for tablets in the second half of the year.
Not all tablet market entries are expected to succeed, and in an interview with Minyanville, ThinkEquity analyst Yum Kim cautioned that Microsoft in particular should not be too reliant on consumer interest to drive sales. "Overall, I'm not expecting any great things from the Surface in the consumer market for the upcoming holiday shopping season," Kim said.