Apple's iPad Mini Steals Spotlight: Tech Weekly

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Guess who's back? Back again? I've been away from this column for a few weeks due to vacation, but I'm taking back "Tech Weekly" for good, and I'm not letting it go.

Apple ( AAPL) was the talk of tech town this week, not only for the iPad Mini that may or may not be launching, but also for what Amazon ( AMZN) is doing to counter the iPhone.

Apple is reportedly launching an iPad Mini later this year, which would compete with the likes of Amazon's Kindle Fire and various Google ( GOOG) Android-based tablets.

"A 7"-8" device at $299 effectively eliminates those advantages for Android and forces Android devices to compete more on software, where we believe iOS still holds a meaningful advantage," wrote Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster in a note. "We remain confident that Apple will maintain and potentially increase its tablet market share over the next four years." Munster estimated Apple could sell anywhere between 4 million and 6 million of the rumored iPad Minis in the holiday quarter.

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Speaking of iPad news, Apple also announced this week that its latest iPad, which was launched in March, will go on sale in China starting July 20.

Customers will be able to buy the new iPad online through the Apple Store, select Apple authorized resellers and by reserving it through Apple's retail stores in China.

One of Apple's more famous retail stores is getting a makeover ahead of its grand reopening.

Apple announced Thursday that its revamped Apple Store in New York City's SoHo neighborhood will reopen this Saturday, July 14, at 10 a.m. EDT. The invitation to the event reads, "The Apple Store, SoHo, is completely redesigned and better than ever. "There are more than twice as many products available for you to try."

In addition to having more products, the Apple Store in SoHo will have a state-of-the-art theater with extra seating and will feature New York's first Briefing Room. The Genius Bar will also be bigger, something that had been rumored previously, and now is coming to fruition.

Shares of Apple closed the week down 0.2% at $604.97.

There was an influx of rumors this week that Amazon was getting into the the smartphone business, potentially looking to take market share away from Apple's iOS and phones from various manufacturers that rely on Google's Android.

Not many details are known about the rumored smartphone, except that it may have a 4 to 5-inch screen, and probably run on a version of Android, very similar to the Kindle Fire.

Shares of Amazon ended the week down 3.0% at $218.39.

Research In Motion ( RIMM) held its annual shareholder meeting early in the week, amid relatively little fanfare.

Investors in the Canadian handset maker were left overwhelmingly disappointed, as the meeting offered little in the way of change and hope. Participants on The Street's live blog were decidedly negative in tone.

Shares of RIM plunged 10.6% during the week to close at $7.24.

The chipmakers were in the news this week, but for very different reasons.

Intel ( INTC) announced that it would purchase a portion of ASML Holding ( ASML) and invest in the company's research and development.

As part of the deal, Intel will invest approximately $1 billion in ASML's R&D over the next five years. It will also eventually purchase 15% of the company for $3.1 billion in two phases.

The first phase sees Intel committing around $680 million to R&D funding, while making an equity investment of $2.1 billion for around 10% of ASML's pretransaction shares. The second part involves another $340 million funding towards R&D to accelerate Extreme Ultra-Violet Lithography (EUV), a process seen as key to the future of chipmaking. Intel will also buy another 5% of ASML for around $1 billion.

Intel rival AMD ( AMD) did not have such positive news to announce this week.

The chipmaker slashed second-quarter guidance on Monday, citing softer-than-expected sales abroad.

AMD said it now expects its revenue to decrease 11% sequentially. Prior to that, AMD forecast a 3% increase, plus or minus 3%, sequentially.

Shares of Intel fell 3.5% this week to $25.25. AMD shares nosedived 14.8% to $4.90.

Internet giant Yahoo! ( YHOO) felt even smaller than its share price this week, as the company confirmed it had been hacked, exposing over 400,000 accounts.

In an email to The Street on Thursday, Yahoo! confirmed that an "older file" from the Yahoo! Contributor Network, which allows writers, photographers, and videographers to share content, was hacked. However, less than 5% of the approximately 400,000 violated accounts had valid passwords. In addition to Yahoo! emails being affected, some Gmail, AOL ( AOL), Hotmail, Comcast ( CMCSA), MSN, SBC Global, Verizon ( VZ), BellSouth and users were also affected.

Shares of Yahoo! edged down 0.2% this week to close at $15.74.

Microsoft ( MSFT) confirmed this week that its newest operating system, Windows 8, will be available in October.

Speaking at Microsoft's Worldwide Partners' Conference in Toronto, Tami Reller, the CFO of Windows and Windows Live, said consumers can purchase Windows 8 by the end of October. The software will be released to manufacturers (RTM) during the first week of August.

Shares of Microsoft lost 2.6% this week to close at $29.39.

Kayak Software has finally decided to move ahead with its long-awaited IPO, announcing it will sell 3.5 million shares between $22 and $25 a share, hoping to raise as much as $100 million in the process.

Kayak Software is holding its IPO roadshow this week, and is expected to make its debut Friday on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol "KYAK."

Also going public next week is Palo Alto Networks, which is scheduled to price on July 19, according to Bloomberg. The high-profile Internet security specialist is selling 6.2 million shares priced at $34 to $37 each, and is expected to start trading on Friday, July 20.

Next week earnings season really kicks into high gear for the tech sector. We get reports from Intel, Yahoo!, IBM ( IBM), Qualcomm ( QCOM), Google, eBay ( EBAY) and Microsoft. Enjoy the weekend everyone.

Interested in more on Apple? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.

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-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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