But there's hope... OK, at this point it’s clear that 2020 is the year that many people are just going to want to forget. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recession, social unrest, political chaos and, for those of us in the Northern California/Silicon Valley area, now a huge series of wildfires, it’s not hard to see why so many people are feeling overwhelmed. Oh, and we’re not even 2/3 of the way through it yet.
As a result, there’s been a staggering amount of effort to try to bring balance and normalcy to our lives. From the huge (and clearly welcome) efforts to share photos and videos of our pets and other cute critters on social media, to the rediscovery of baking, board games, and other activities that remind us all of simpler times, people are clamoring for distractions that can blunt the impact of our current (and likely well into 2021) new reality.
"This year there looks to be a genuinely exciting group of product releases and announcements"
Thankfully, for those of us who love technology, the fall pre-holiday product release season is nearly upon us, and it’s never felt better to wish for Christmas (or whatever end-of-year holiday you choose to celebrate) in August, September, October and, well, you get the idea.
Even better, this year there looks to be a genuinely exciting group of product releases and announcements on tap that, even in a more normal year, would be enough to get the endorphins flowing. In the crazy, stressful year of 2020, the slate of big fall product launches looks to be a downright godsend.
Even without knowing all the details, it’s easy to get excited. In the PC world, both Nvidia and Intel have big press events scheduled for next week, and it’s not hard to guess that we’ll probably be seeing some impressive new gaming GPUs from Nvidia and next generation CPUs from Intel.
In fact, Intel has already shared some of the details of the architecture for its forthcoming Tiger Lake generation of CPUs (see: “Intel Chip Advancements Show They’re Up for a Competitive Challenge”). What remains to be seen are detailed specs for systems that include Tiger Lake, comparative performance benchmarks, and details from system vendors like HP, Dell, and Lenovo about PCs that incorporate the new chips.
In the world of smartphones, next week is also when we’ll get the final details on Samsung’s next generation foldable: the Galaxy Z Fold 2. Again, the company has already talked about the device at a high-level, but the in-depth particulars are still to come. Speaking of foldables, Motorola is heavily rumored to be unveiling a next generation of its Razr foldable phone the week after that. Plus, let’s not forget that we’ll finally be able to get our hands on the newly announced Microsoft Surface Duo dual-screen foldable device around the same time.
Of course, the most highly anticipated phone for the fall is Apple’s upcoming line of iPhone 12s—likely to be the first 5G-capable line of phones from the Cupertino giant. Despite the company’s best efforts, there have been (as usual) a staggering number of leaks, or at least speculations, about what features and capabilities these new devices will include. The addition of 5G seems a given, but there has been enormous debate about what type(s) of 5G (sub-6 vs. millimeter wave, for example) that Apple will support in different models.
To the company’s credit, whatever the specific 5G implementations prove to be, they have timed the release of these devices almost perfectly in relation to network coverage, at least in terms of the US market.
The new T-Mobile (combined with Sprint) has been ramping up its low-band, nationwide 5G service since last December and recently started expanding the critical (and currently dominated by T-Mo) mid-band 5G service to many more markets. AT&T, meanwhile, just announced it has reached nationwide coverage for its low-band 5G service as well. Verizon is rumored to be planning to announce some kind of 5G coverage expansion alongside the release of the new 5G-capable iPhones. In fact, even Android fans will be able to celebrate the release of iPhone 12, because it will finally start to bring better 5G coverage in the US to them as well.
As we’ve learned via the pandemic, gaming is more important than ever to many people, and this fall will also finally see the release of the next generation of AMD chip-powered consoles from Sony (the PlayStation 5) and Microsoft (Xbox Series X). While there may have been questions about the continued viability of dedicated game consoles even just a year ago, those doubts have been obliterated by the enormous interest in and pent-up demand for these devices.
Like a few of the other categories mentioned, some architectural details of each of the gaming platforms (as well as some big games) have already been revealed, but full specs, pricing, and performance benchmarks are yet to come. Toss in a new line of Apple watches, rumors of an Amazon Alexa-based home robot, Lenovo’s X1 Fold foldable PC, and likely many other interesting surprises, and the excitement and build-up for this fall’s host of tech-related product announcements might actually be able to distract us and give us some hope of normalcy, at least for a while.
I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to it.
Bob O’Donnell is the founder and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a technology consulting firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech.