Google chairman Eric Schmidt says Samsung had iPhone 6-level products a year ago (video)

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Google chairman Eric Schmidt and former product manager Jonathan Rosenberg are currently on tour promoting their new book How Google Works, and as the co-authors continue making their rounds, they’ve been engaging in some rather assertive interviews. This time around the duo stopped by Bloomberg’s Market Makers with hosts Erik Schatzker and Stephanie Ruhle. The group talked about the search giant’s biggest competitors like Apple, Yahoo, Amazon and others. Here are a few highlights from the 15 minute segment.

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Amazon reportedly exploring wearables and home automation

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Despite the Fire Phone’s unfavorable reception from critics and consumers alike, Amazon isn’t scaling back its hardware efforts. The company’s Lab126 division that develops Amazon’s mobile products is reportedly increasing its staff in order to further pursue its interests in home automation and wearables. According to Reuters, Amazon is in the process of testing a WiFi device that can be added to a closet or cupboard, allowing consumers to order relevant products like detergent with the press of a button.

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Amazon announces massive Kindle refresh including new ‘Kindle Voyage’ and $99 Kindle Fire HD tablet

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Following a big day of Apple news, Kindle has unleashed a massive refresh of its Kindle lines, including three refreshed Kindles and—interestingly—one completely new Kindle model. The lineup includes the company’s new flagship e-reader dubbed Kindle Voyage, a new entry-level Kindle that now packs a touch screen, an updated Kindle Fire HDX, and a new Kindle Fire HD, which is starting at just $99. Read more

Android users at last get access to Amazon Instant Video as of today

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Amazon seems to have finally accepted that access to Amazon Instant Video still isn’t going to make anyone want to buy a Fire Phone. As of today, Amazon Prime members in the U.S. can watch Instant Video on any Android device using the updated Amazon app.

Prime members in the US can stream unlimited Prime Instant Video from inside the Amazon app using the Prime Instant Video player, including HBO shows The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, Six Feet Under, and The Wire …

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Amazon having Fire Sale on the Fire Phone: $0.99 on contract, $449 off

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Is the Amazon Fire Phone simmering out? Recent estimates reached by The Guardian pegged the device at having sold less than 35,000 units and today Amazon and AT&T are bringing down the price to 99¢ on a two year contract less than two months after launch. The device was previously priced at $199 for 32GB with a two year commitment, which many observed was a rather high price point for a not-so-remarkable handset mostly differentiated by its 3D effect and Amazon Prime services… Read more

Project Wing is Google X’s attempt at a drone-based delivery program

Earlier this year, Amazon unveiled its plans for using drones to deliver products to customers, and now Google has revealed that it is working on something similar. According to two separate reports from The Atlantic and BBC, the secretive Google X team has been hard at work on Project Wing, a drone-based delivery system, for more than two years.

The idea of Google using drones to deliver goods is something that 9to5Google has reported on for some time now, including as far back as October of 2012, and again a few months later. Google said the following in a statement regarding Project Wing:

Project Wing is a Google[x] project that is developing a delivery system that uses self-flying vehicles. As part of our research, we built a vehicle and traveled to Queensland, Australia for some test flights. There, we successfully delivered a first aid kit, candy bars, dog treats, and water to a couple of Australian farmers.

We’re only just beginning to develop the technology to make a safe delivery system possible, but we think that there’s tremendous potential to transport goods more quickly, safely and efficiently.

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Microsoft, Amazon, others reportedly eyeing Cyanogen for future smartphone software

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CyanogenMod—which is probably the most well-known fork of Android—lets users customize their phone beyond what Google intends, and touts having as many as 12 million active installs across a variety of devices. But the company behind the famed alternative operating system is reportedly getting a lot of attention, notably from companies that would consider themselves some of Google’s biggest rivals.

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Estimates say the Fire Phone hasn’t passed 35,000 units sold

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According to numbers crunched by The Guardian‘s Charles Arthur and based on data from Chitika and comScore, it appears as if the Amazon Fire Phone isn’t exactly setting hardly anything on fire. In fact, if this report is to be believed, Amazon hasn’t sold more than 35,000 total Fire Phone units since the much-hyped unveiling of the device in June.

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Move over Google! Amazon reportedly close to acquiring Twitch (update)

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Almost a month ago, it seemed like Google’s reported $1 billion acquisition of the video game streaming website  Twitch was a done deal. However, according to The Information, Amazon is in “late-stage” negotiations to purchase the company instead. The financial terms of this rumored deal have not been disclosed, so it’s unknown what would cause talks between Mountain View and Twitch to fall apart.

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Amazon takes on Square and PayPal Here with $10 smartphone cardreader & lower fees

Small businesses looking to take occasional card payments without paying monthly fees now have a third option as Amazon has launched Local Register to compete with Square and PayPal Here – as we predicted last month over on 9to5Mac. The $10 card-reader is currently only compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S3, S4 and S5, along with the Kindle Fire HD and HDX tablets, but more devices are expected to be added.

Amazon is undercutting both competitor services with a flat fee of 2.5 percent per transaction (vs 2.7 percent for PayPal Here and 2.75 percent for Square). Not enough? Amazon is sweetening the deal with a special introductory rate of 1.75 percent until the end of 2015, and will also credit the $10 cost of the cardreader in full against transaction fees …  Read more

Amazon’s back to school sale takes $20 or more off select Chromebooks and Chromeboxes

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Chromebooks are already making waves with educators and school districts and of course retailers are no exception. Amazon is currently running a back to school promotion that knocks $20 or more off the regular asking price of select Chromebooks. This brings some device’s like the Acer C720P Chromebook to an all time low. Other machines like the HP Chromebook 11, which features an Exynos 5 processor, 2GB of RAM and an 11.6-inch 1,366 x 768 display are available for $200.

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Watch out Amazon: Google partners with Barnes & Noble in same-day book delivery service

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There will be some nervous faces in Amazon’s headquarters as Google today partners with rival booksellers Barnes & Noble to extend the Google Shopping Express service to books, reveals the New York Times.

Starting on Thursday, book buyers in Manhattan, West Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area will be able to get same-day deliveries from local Barnes & Noble stores through Google Shopping Express, Google’s fledgling online shopping and delivery service …

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