Kindle Fire, in another move beyond its retail roots, plans to release a smartphone in September, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday. The long-rumored device would thrust Amazon into the highly competitive smartphone market currently dominated by Samsung and Apple. The company would introduce the new phone in June, and it would begin shipping in the fall, unnamed sources told the Journal. We've asked Amazon for confirmation and will update if we hear back. As reported previously, the same sources said the phone would try to stand out in the crowded market by including 3-D technology. said this week that it's adding push notifications to its web services for developers, reflecting the significant growth in the mobile application market and related services. The fully managed service is cloud-based as well as cross-platform, meaning developers can tap it to send notifications to iOS, Android and Kindle Fire devices. While push notifications is a growing area, it faces challenges including other mobile messaging tools such as SMS and how to avoid annoying users with too many messages. yesterday launched its virtual currency program, dubbed Amazon Coins. To kick things off, Amazon is providing all Kindle Fire owners with 500 free Amazon Coins, which are worth $5. "You can use the coins to buy apps and games, as well as items inside apps and games," Amazon said in a note on its homepage. Amazon also said Amazon Coins are available to purchase at a discount, for savings of up to 10 percent depending on how many coins you purchase.

Barnes & Noble has put up an excellent fight over the past few years against the rising tide of digital competitors like the iPad, Kindle Fire, etc., but it would seem that the bookseller has still come up a bit short, as the The Wall Street Journal reports that the company has plans to shut down nearly 20 stores per year over the course of the next decade. Just last week, we learned that Barnes & Noble had a rough holiday sales season with a 10.9 percent sales decrease from the previous year's holiday season. Inc announced that it has acquired text-to-speech technology company IVONA Software. IVONA delivers world-class technologies that power the Text-to-Speech, Voice Guide and Explore by Touch features on Kindle Fire tablets. Additionally, IVONA...

On Tuesday, the folks at Amazon announced a feature that's been added to Cloud Player: Scan and match. This new feature enables something very similar to Apple's iTunes Match on Amazon's cloud-based music streaming service. You allow Amazon to scan your iTunes or Windows Media Player libraries in order to match songs you own to those in Amazon's catalog. All of the matched songs — whether they were purchased from iTunes, ripped from CDs, or otherwise acquired — become instantly available in Cloud Player. As with iTunes Match, the songs that you'll find in Cloud Player will be 256 Kbps, no matter how low-quality

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