On eve of 3D Phone, report reveals Amazon also working on voice-controlled speaker, Square competitor and thinner Kindles

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Amazon is expected to announce its first smartphone tomorrow, but the outfit seems to have a lot more in its pipeline. The folks at Lab126, the company’s secretive hardware division are reportedly busy working on several unannounced projects. According to Bloomberg, one group is rumored to be working on a gadget that projects a computer image onto any surface. Another team within the company’s R&D fold is laboring away on a wireless speaker that responds to voice commands and a third crew is working on a payment accepting device said to be in the vein of Square.

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Review: Is Amazon’s Fire TV the Android gaming machine you’ve been waiting for? (Video)

Amazon’s new Fire TV set-top box may seem like every other solution on the market, but there’s one big difference. Fire TV has built-in gaming features that will allow you to play compatible Android games that are available within Amazon’s app store. The bad news is, if you’ve previously purchased any of the compatible titles from the Google Play Store, you’ll need to repurchase them from Amazon. Check out the video overview above for an overview and demo of Fire TV gaming.

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The Kindle Fire, the true Android gamers tablet? Survey says yes

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Far be it from me to pass judgement on which Android tablet is the true “gamers” tablet, but a new survey via AllThingsD suggests the Kindle Fire is the people’s choice for gaming. According to a survey conducted this past June by IDC and App Annie, Amazon’s Kindle tablets received around 12% of the votes, far more than all other Android tablets combined. 

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Amazon introduces Fire OS 3.1 software update with nary a mention of “Android”

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Amazon’s recently released new line of Kindle Fire hardware and 3.0 Fire OS software is certainly making inroads thanks in no small part to Mayday. Well, Amazon isn’t wasting any time making improvements as they introduce Fire OS 3.1 this morning which includes Goodreads integration, “Second Screen” technology which lets you “fling movies and tv shows from your tablet to your TV” and enterprise-ready features.

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Is Amazon building a ChromeCast-type of TV product called the ‘Firetube’

We got a tip (Thanks Guy!) that Amazon had trademarked the name ‘Firetube’ in Canada and the US. With all of the news surrounding the Amazon Phone lately – I immediately thought that is a dumb name for a phone.

Seconds later it hit me. Tube=TV. Amazon needs a TV product to counter Apple and Google.

It makes a lot of sense.  Amazon has all of this content on the Fire and no way to put it on a TV yet. They have to release some type of Chromecast competitor and quick. There are, of course, rumors of an Amazon TV. Lots of rumors. Bloomberg thinks Fall 2013 is the planned launch window. That’s right now.

Quick thoughts: Will it play from the iOS app? Will it be cheap and cost ~$35 like the ChromeCast?  Bundled with Kindle? Will it work with older devices? I’ve reached out to Amazon for a comment.

With the name now public and the holidays approaching, it would be surprising not to see an announcement soon.

Student (or play one)? Here, have $50 off a Kindle HD 8.9-inch, now starting at $249

From 9to5Toys.com:

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If you are a student (or have access to a .edu email address), Amazon is having a special New Years Day deal on the Kindle HD 8.9. The online retailing giant is offering $50 off the price of an 8.9-inch Kindle Fire that yields a $249 price.

Exclusive Discount on Kindle Fire 8.9″
Special pricing available only to Amazon Student Members with an active Prime account (free six-month or $39/year plan). Join Amazon Student or start your [$39/year] discounted Prime membership to take advantage of this sale. The promo codes below will become available 24 hours after activation of your account, through January 30. New members, don’t forget to check your .edu email and verify your account.

How to Redeem This Deal
Place a Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ or a Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE Wireless in your cart. At checkout, enter the promo code KNDL4STU. If you are an Amazon Student member in a free or paid Prime plan, the discount will be applied to the items in your cart. This promo code may be redeemed once per customer. offer good only while supplies last. Read more

Amazon making moves to displace iPads in schools

We know Apple has had a lot of success pushing iPads in education, and during Apple’s Q3 conference call, CEO Tim Cook said the company would continue to be “very aggressive”. Apple’s iPad 2 sales in the K-12 market doubled y-o-y in Q3 thanks to a price drop to $399. In Q2, Apple said it sold about a million iPad units to the United States education market. With Apple’s upcoming iPad mini announcement possibly bringing an even lower price point for iPads in education, Amazon is announcing its plans today to get Kindle tablets into schools.

Reuters reported today that Amazon is launching a service, called “Whispercast”, aimed at allowing schools to easily deploy and manage multiple kindle devices:

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Walmart memo reveals retailer will no longer sell Amazon’s Kindle line

Walmart apparently sent a memo to store managers on Sept. 19. announcing plans to stop selling Amazon’s line of Kindle products.

“We have recently made the business decision to not carry Amazon tablets and eReaders beyond our existing inventory and purchase commitments,” said Walmart in the memo. “This includes all Amazon Kindle models current and recently announced.”

Reuters, which cited the memo and an unidentified source “familiar with situation,” first reported the news:

In the memo, Wal-Mart said the decision was consistent with its overall merchandising strategy. While Wal-Mart dwarfs other retailers in overall sales, it trails Amazon and others online and has been stepping up efforts to increase its presence there. Consumers who buy Kindle tablets such as the new Kindle Fire HD can shop on the devices for more than just digital books, pushing Amazon into further competition with stores.

The publication did not provide additional details, but Walmart.com currently reflects the reported change. When searching for “Kindle” on the national retailer’s website, no Kindle-related products appear in the queue. It is unclear if Walmart’s website ever offered the tablets, however.

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Amazon launches GameCircle for Kindle Fire [Video]

Amazon just announced a new gaming experience for developers and the Kindle Fire: GameCircle.

According to the Amazon Mobile App Distribution blog, GameCircle is a “new set of services designed to make it easier for you to create more engaging gaming experiences and grow your business on Kindle Fire,” by making “achievements, leaderboards and sync APIs accessible, simple and quick for you to integrate, and will give gamers a more seamless and entertaining in-game experience.”

Amazon offers a growing suite of developer services. Its new GameCircle is geared specifically for game developers too, which is great news for the Kindle Fire since it is facing a firestorm of Android-based content competition from the new Nexus 7. Game Circle also helps players to better experience their games through three key features —achievements, leaderboards, and sync—that will surely continue to entice folks to the dominating Android-based eReader.

Achievements allow players to “track all earned trophies, treasures, badges, awards, and more without leaving the gaming experience,” while leaderboards give an “in-game view of score comparison information and percentile ranking, allowing players to quickly and easily check standings against top players or competitors, without ever leaving your game.”

Sync autosaves players’ in-game progress to the cloud for immediate pick-up exactly where they ended when switching devices or restoring a deleted game. Losing progress, scores or achievements is not a problem with GameCircle, because as all data is safely stored in the cloud.

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