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Apple Inc. becomes focus of tech universe as world awaits iPhone 5

SAN FRANCISCO--Apple becomes the focus of the technology universe Wednesday as the world awaits a new iPhone with a big, beautiful touch screen and connectivity to blazingly fast telecom networks.

Apple has been tight-lipped about what is in store at its media event in San Francisco, but hinted at a keenly anticipated “iPhone 5” in invitations that bore the cryptic message “It's almost here.”

Leaks and rumors portray the new iPhone as having a larger touchscreen than its predecessor and say that it will be available by the end of the month.

“They need to come out with a bigger screen since the market is clearly moving in that direction and they need to give the iPhone LTE 4G connectivity,” said NPD Group analyst Stephen Baker.

“Both of those are features people want and Apple is clearly ready to make them part of the iPhone.”

Telecom providers have been rolling out fourth-generation, or 4G, networks boasting top speeds for Internet-linked wireless devices.

Demand for what is being referred to as “iPhone 5” is likely to be hot, with analysts convinced many people have put off purchases to wait for Apple's latest.

Canaccord Genuity brokerage told investors to expect record iPhone sales after a new model launches, and Piper Jaffray predicted that as many as 10 million could be bought during the week after launch.

“Pent-up demand for the iPhone 5 is such that Apple will sell every one they can make” in the coming weeks, said analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group.

Enderle said he expected the iPhone 5 to dominate until next year, when “fan demand” could give way to device-neutral shoppers saving money by opting for Android-powered rivals from firms like Samsung.

“Samsung has gone beyond copying iPhone to improving on it,” Enderle said.

Smartphones powered by Google's Android software continued to dominate with 52.2 percent of the U.S. market, but Apple's iOS was the second most popular smartphone platform with 33.4 percent, comScore reported.

Samsung mobile phones remained the most popular in the United States with 25.6 percent of the market, but third-place Apple gained ground to claim 16.3 percent as of the end of July, according to comScore.

Google and Microsoft introduced new champions in the fiercely competitive smartphone arena a week ahead of the Apple event.

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