With Black Friday looming, expect buy buttons to be clicked and registers rung at record speeds. And it is likely to be tablets all the way as second and third screens become the norm in homes and among the most requested tech gift ideas.
With so many high-class models to choose from, the field has never been more open. So which will win in the battle for sales?
Google Fast out of the Gates
Kudos to Google for simply dropping the Nexus 5 on the world with a press release, some concentrated embargoed press coverage and the fun of the KitKat update. That's neatly put a lid on October's gadget news, without the need for a silly stage show, some ludicrous pomposity or technological navel gazing. If only others would do us a similar service.
However, November — and Black Friday in particular — is the time when things will really kick off. Apple will get things off to a flying start with the $499 iPad Air ($479 at Walmart) and some other stores), arriving in stores on the first day of the month. The newly styled light and powerful tablet will be closely followed by the retina-screened iPad mini that is likely to create new records for sale speed and volume in stores, even with a $399 starting price tag.
UPDATE: Across the web and social media, people pointed out pretty light trade for the new iPad Air in stores, with between 'dozens' and 'hundreds' of enthusiasts snapping up the first few, but plenty of devices left for passing trade throughout the day. Only in a few places were sell-outs reported, notably in Hong Kong. iPad tourism is apparently big business with lots of Russians flying into London especially to pick one up.
Target is already taking pre-orders and Apple's site is rumored to kick off for mini orders on 1 November, with a release date of 14 or 21 November being considered a good bet. With plenty of versions, including LTE and 128GB options, get ready to buy early because the base versions will likely sell out in minutes.
Any device that's been on the shelves for a while is likely to see some price reductions over the Black Friday and holiday season, but don't expect any of the newcomers to dip below their regular price. And with most users unlikely to utilize the power of brand new tablet, look for bargains among the older generations of devices.
Rubbing the Kindle
Then there's barely a week's gap before the larger 8.9" Amazon Kindle Fire HDX goes on sale, available in versions up to 64GB and also touting a 4G option, this could easily be the number one purchase for Amazon customers this year, following the store's trend over recent holidays, especially with that tempting $379 starting price point.
Also likely to show up during the month is Nokia's freshly announced 2520 Lumia tablet, widening the field for Windows 8.1 users alongside Microsoft's own Surface 2 models. Add these to Google's updated Nexus 7, Samsung's ever growing range of Note devices and the stage is set for a phenomenal spending spree that will likely see the mix of tablets widen as consumer choice grows.
For those looking outside the usual suspects, Sony's Xperia Z tablet has received many good reviews and with the company's smartphones generating sizeable sales and revenue, the company could be a rising star in mobile again.
That choice is expanded by the ever-growing range of first-party or other keyboard options that make these devices more capable when it comes to productivity and working. Will that sway users to opt for a tablet over perhaps a new Chromebook instead? One thing that likely won't be selling in huge numbers: smartwatches. Most potential buyers are still waiting for a compelling reason to buy and some of the key manufacturers are waiting until 2014 to show their wrist.