Amazon announces Netflix, Facebook and many more will be ready for the Kindle Fire

The Kindle Fire is just five days away from launch. A few days ago Amazon announced that it will have a whole host of Kindles, including the Fire, on shelves at more than 16,000 retail locations worldwide on November 16, and now it has sweetened an already amazing looking product.

Amazon announced today that the Kindle Fire will have a whole host of popular apps ready for launch. The list includes Netfix, Facebook, Rhapsody, Pandora, Twitter, Comics by comiXology and more. On they games front, titles from Zynga, EA, Gameloft, PopCap and Rovio are on the way. Any holes that were in the Fire’s facade are quickly being filled.

The apps mentioned above are of course in addition to the suite of apps already available on the Amazon Appstore. Five days people.

Source: Amazon

Amazon announces three new Kindle models, including 7″ Kindle Fire tablet

When we posted our story about Amazon’s upcoming press conference on the 24th, there was no way to know the coup d’état that the media giant had planned. The fact that Amazon was launching a tablet of some kind was a known quantity, but few could have guessed that they’d be launching three distinct Kindle products that suitably challenge multiple competitive devices.

The tablet is named the Kindle Fire and was indeed announced to be a 7″ Android-based tablet tightly tied into Amazon services, as was widely rumored. Beyond that, the display is actually an IPS model, which is the same low-power, wide viewing angle technology found in products like the iPhone and iPad. The app delivery system is the Amazon Android App Store, meaning that users will have access to an established library of tested apps with a free app available every day. Amazon has also added their Whispersync functionality to videos, allowing users to stop watching a video at any point on any device and pick it back up on the Fire. Finally, the Fire will integrate “Amazon Silk” into its browser, which harnesses Amazon’s EC2 servers to allow for prefetching of website elements to speed the browsing experience.

Kindle Fire feature list

The tablet will be priced at a competitive $199, which not only challenges the value proposition of higher-priced tablets but also hopes to address users whose primary interest in this class of device is consumption. Not only that, but the Kindle Fire promises to disrupt an Android ecosystem that demands licensing/royalties for the Honeycomb version though still has yet to gain major traction. The Fire isn’t the only disruptive Kindle to be announced at this conference, however, as the latest Kindle iteration and wholly new Kindle Touch offer another tempting aspect of the Amazon experience.

The new Kindle isn’t too different from the Kindle 3 functionally, ditching the physical keyboard for a physical one and consequently shaving the device’s footprint by 18% and weight by 30%. The biggest difference is easily price – $79 for the version with Amazon’s “special offers” and $109 for the version without. No doubt this will make a killer stocking stuffer during the holiday season, as the price easily dips below impulse territory for consumers. The last new Kindle model is the Kindle Touch, which augments the E Ink screen with multitouch and offers a global free 3G model. Both the Wi-Fi and 3G + WiFi versions will have cheaper “special offers” models, whose prices can be found below -

Kindle line-up pricing matrix

Amazon has accomplished no small task with their press conference. Not only will they be offering one of the most compelling tablets on the market in their first attempt, but they’ll surely continue to dominate the E Ink-based e-Reader competition with highly appealing prices. It’ll surely be interesting to see how competitors react, as the price tags of the Apple iPad ($499 base), Barnes & Noble Nook Color ($249), and Sony Reader Touch Edition ($229) sorely need revision.

Source: Amazon, This is my next | Image: Matt Braga

Amazon cuts deal with Fox for Prime Instant Streaming service

In another big reach to gain parity with Netflix, Amazon has now signed a deal with Fox to bring a huge chunk of their catalog to their Prime Instant Streaming service. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos sneaked out the following announcement over the weekend:

I have big news for Amazon Prime members – we’ve just signed a deal with FOX to add a broad selection of movies and TV shows to our unlimited instant streaming service later this fall. The new additions from the FOX library include 24, Arrested Development, The X-Files, Ally McBeal, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and – available on digital video for the first time – The Wonder Years. We now have deals with CBS, NBCUniversal, Sony, and Warner Bros, and adding FOX will bring the total to more than 11,000 movies and TV shows available for unlimited instant streaming.

As you can see, not only does this deal bring plenty of Netflix’s more popular television offerings to Amazon’s fledgling video service, but it also brings exclusive content – The Wonder Years – to the table. Amazon also notes that this new influx of content brings their library over 11,000 titles, which compares quite favorably to Netflix’s 12k+ titles (according to instantwatcher). With a competitive catalog, comparable device support, and cheaper annual subscription cost, Amazon will truly have a chance at catching up and maybe even surpassing Netflix.

Source: Amazon | Via: TechCrunch

Amazon announces September 28th press conference, tablet reveal likely

Things just got real — well, more real at least. After TechCrunch’s scoop on the Amazon tablet last month it seemed like only a matter of time before the AmTab (yep, that’s what we’re calling it) veil was lifted, and it’s looking like Wednesday, September 28th is the day for it.

There isn’t much to go on here, but Amazon has only held press conferences in recent times when they had hardware to show, so it’s pretty clear that this is going to be something substantial. The only way this might not be a tablet event is if Amazon has a fairly radical Kindle re-design in the wings, and that isn’t likely.

Here’s a quick rundown of what is expected from an Amazon tablet:

  • $250
  • 7″ screen
  • Highly modified for of Android
  • Tight Amazon services integration

The event is set for 10 am on Wednesday, September 28th in New York City.

Source: Engadget | Image: Engadget

Rumor: Amazon to launch digital book library service

By all accounts Amazon has big plans for this holiday season. The Amazon tablet is set to be the first true competitor to the iPad, and Amazon may just be readying a Netflix-like book service to add to their already robust content offerings.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon is in active talks with book publishers to introduce an all-you-can eat digital book service.There are no pricing details to go on for the moment, but inclusion into the overarching Amazon Prime service is not out of the question. The Amazon brand is already somewhat synonymous with books, this would only help solidify that.

This would be a substantial addition to Amazon’s Kindle, and the forthcoming, tablet business. Along with the free year of Amazon Prime rumored to be included with all Amazon tablet purchases, books and streaming video would be covered. Let’s just hope the book catalog for this kind of service would be better than Amazon’s video library.

Amazon seems to have a lot of balls in the air. It will be interesting to see how many those they can get to land in the right place over the next few month.

Source: WSJ

Dish rumored to be launching Blockbuster-branded Netflix competitor

Bloomberg has reported on a rumor from “a person with direct knowledge” concerning Dish Network’s plans with the Blockbuster brand. After their acquisition of the bankrupt company last April, many were scratching their heads wondering why a satellite television company would have interest in a video rental service. This source suggests that Dish seeks to expand Blockbuster’s online on-demand offerings to support a subscription-based model much like Netflix’s Instant View or Amazon’s Prime Instant Video services.

This move would come in the wake of Netflix’s rising prices coming into effect this month and the recent news that Starz has let their contract with Netflix end due to unfulfilled demands for more licensing costs. With Blockbuster.com’s established presence in the on-demand market, the launch of a subscription arm seems a logical next step. To add insult to injury, Bloomberg’s source suggests that this new service will co-opt the scorned Starz catalog to bolster initial offerings. These two facts could make this Blockbuster not only a credible competitor to Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu but also bring them into the market much more quickly than any other company might be able.

Source: Bloomberg

Rumored first hands-on with Amazon Kindle tablet

Usually, tech scoops come from a particularly eager journalist digging through FCC filings or an unnamed source deep within a company revealing scant secrets with a blurry photo attached. Rarely does a journalist get to touch the unannounced product that they plan to blow up in front of the public, but MG Siegler of TechCrunch claims that he got a hands-on with Amazon’s oft-rumored 7-inch Android-based tablet that’ll likely be releasing late this year.

While he doesn’t have definitive specs to offer up due to the fact that his experience was purely hands-on in nature, plenty of facts about Amazon’s tablet were obvious. Siegler says the 7-inch tablet has a capacitive, multi-touch, backlit LED display, distancing the device from their typical Kindle lineup for broader media consumption. The software will be a forked version of Google Android OS, adopting a decidedly Amazon-tinted design philosophy mixed with a familiar interface from the e-ink Kindle models. The big highlights of the software are Amazon’s apps, including Cloud Player, Kindle reader, Instant Video player, and Android App Store.

The device he handled was in the design verification testing phase, meaning software tweaking is the name of the game and production shouldn’t be far out. The device is slated for a release around November and will be priced at an extremely competitive $250. On top of that, they supposedly plan to offer their $79 Amazon Prime service gratis with purchase of the 7-inch Kindle, bringing two-day shipping and free Amazon Prime Instant Streaming to the masses. For more details, check out the source link below.

Source: TechCrunch

Amazon launches web-based Kindle Cloud Reader

Amazon continues to push the Kindle into new spaces, and the latest space is the web. With the launch of Kindle Cloud Reader, the Kindle reading experience is available to anyone with a web browser. Amazon touts the new service with 3 key points:

  • Instant access to you Kindle library
  • Continue reading even when you lose your internet connection
  • Optimized for iPad: shop the integrated Kindle Store for Tablets

Did you catch that last one? That’s the real kicker here. While it is nice to have Kindle functionality with little more than a browser, the main motivation for this service for Amazon is Apple’s requirement for a cut of all linked content within apps.

Amazon has a Kindle app in the App Store, and until recently it provided a link to Amazon’s Kindle store on the web where additional book titles could be purchased. Due to recent policy changes, They were no longer able to provide a path for Kindle purchases without giving Apple a cut of any sales originating from the app. Subsequently, Amazon removed all store links from the app and will now undoubtedly be pushing Kindle Cloud Reader as the best way to experience Kindle on your iPad.

Kindle Cloud Player is built on HTML 5 technology and joins Amazon Cloud Player in a burgeoning suite of Amazon cloud offerings.

Source: Amazon

Amazon announces Kindle textbook rental program

Since the release of the Kindle DX more than two years ago, Amazon has tried to integrate the digital textbook market into their sizable empire of Kindle sales. While the physical advantages of e-books are quite obvious, factors like slow refresh rate on the e-ink screens of the Kindle and subsequent difficulty of “flipping through” a reference material made their prospect understandably questionable.

With their latest announcement on the matter, Amazon must be hoping to shake things up by offering textbook rentals for periods between 30 and 360 days. The pricing model will scale to the rental period “with savings up to 80% off the print list price on a 30-day rental”, said Vice President of Amazon Kindle Dave Limp. This move not only takes advantage of Amazon’s reputation of reduced prices for new and used textbooks, but makes note of the inherent short lifespan of textbooks for students. Furthermore, the two years since the release of the Kindle DX have born the iPad and iPad 2, which both offer Kindle apps that address some of the aforementioned usability issues.

The service is already live, so students can avail themselves of the savings just in time for a new semester.

[Source: Amazon Media Room]