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Microsoft updates Skype for Android, reveals Amazon Fire Phone app

07/23, 6:40pm

Skype update allows linking of phonebook with Microsoft account

Microsoft has made a few changes to Skype for Android, adding the option to connect the smartphone's address book to the service. At the same time, Microsoft has revealed it is releasing a version of the messaging app client for Amazon's Fire Phone, one which will take advantage of the smartphone's home screen and graphical effects.

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Amazon bolsters small Prime Music catalog with thousands of tracks

07/23, 12:02pm

Extra music added on top of existing million-track Amazon Prime Music collection

Amazon is attempting to improve the selection of music available on its Prime Music service, to make it more appealing to Prime subscribers. The retailer has announced it has added "hundreds of thousands of songs" to the Prime Music catalog, as well as more curated playlists to the service, though it appears users wanting more modern music may be disappointed.

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Kindle Fire, iPad make gains in North American web traffic

07/22, 2:40pm

Samsung sees big setback

Since April, the shares of North American tablet web traffic from iPads and Kindle Fires has increased by 0.8 and 1.2 points, respectively, according to new data compiled by Chitika Insights. The figures put the iPad at 78 percent of traffic, and the Kindle Fire at 7.3 percent, the latter displacing Samsung tablets in aggregate (down to 6.3 percent). Google and Microsoft -- also generally considered prominent tablet makers -- managed shares of just 2.1 and 1.4 percent.

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Amazon Wallet app for storing gift cards, store cards surfaces

07/22, 2:08pm

Mobile app from Amazon stores retailer card details, no mobile payments by card yet

Amazon has quietly launched an app to help people manage gift cards and loyalty cards with stores. The Amazon Wallet app for Android and the Fire Phone is able to store membership cards for retailers on the smartphone, allowing shoppers to digitally carry all of their store cards and gift cards without having to also bring along the physical versions.

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Amazon launches Kindle Unlimited e-book subscription service

07/18, 9:29am

Over 600,000 e-books, audiobooks can be downloaded from Kindle Unlimited

Following a leak from earlier this week, Amazon has launched its subscription e-book service. Named Kindle Unlimited, the service operates as a form of "Netflix for e-books," providing all-you-can-eat access to over 600,000 Kindle books and thousands of Audible audiobooks via Kindle devices or the Kindle apps on smartphones and tablets for $9.99 per month.

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Briefly: Three Wi-Fi on London Underground, EU Amazon Prime update

07/17, 12:32pm

Three prepares to offer subscribers free Wi-Fi in London Underground

British carrier Three is following the lead of other carriers in the country, by offering free Wi-Fi on the London Underground. The Next Web reports the carrier will be working with Virgin Media, the company that set up the original Wi-Fi network for the 2012 Olympic Games, to provide customers free access to the Wi-Fi network in 137 stations without buying a Wi-Fi pass. Three hopes to open up the network to its customers by the end of this month.

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Amazon's mobile ad network comes to iOS

07/17, 11:45am

Reach extending to Fire phone on July 25th

Amazon's Mobile Ads API supports iOS devices as of today, the company has announced. The change means that developers will be able to use banner and interstitial ads from Amazon's network on iPhones and iPads, in addition to the Android and Fire OS devices already supported. Support for the Fire phone is due on July 25th, the same day that product launches.

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Amazon executive confirms Instant Video Android app on the way

07/17, 10:58am

Android Amazon Instant Video app, 4K video mentioned by marketing director

Amazon is said to be preparing to launch an Android app for Amazon Instant Video for non-Kindle Fire tablets. An executive allegedly confirmed the long-awaited app for normal Android devices is "imminent" to a report, a move which would finally bring the video streaming service in line with competitors, such as Netflix, in providing a cross-platform video streaming experience.

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Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription e-books service leaks in testing

07/16, 2:16pm

Cached pages detail Kindle Unlimited service with over 600,000 books

Amazon is allegedly testing an e-book subscription service the retailer could offer to Kindle customers sometime in the future. Effectively operating in a similar way to Netflix for video or Spotify for music, Kindle Unlimited will apparently provide "unlimited access to over 600,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks" at a cost of $10 per month.

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Apple to pay $450M to settle class action over e-book price fixing

07/16, 1:46pm

Will solve complaints made in 33 states and territories

Apple has agreed to pay $450 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over e-book price fixing, brought against it by states and consumers, according to New York's Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman. The payment will settle allegations made in 33 states and territories, including New York. Schneiderman says that of the total amount, up to $400 million could reach consumers, depending on whether Apple wins its appeal.

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Amazon hires Babak Parviz, former Google Glass, Google X team lead

07/14, 2:12pm

Former researcher previously led Google Glass and Google Contact Lenses teams

What started with a social media message turned into confirmation that Amazon has made a high-profile hire. Babak Parviz, formerly of Google as part of their Google X division, has been hired into an unspecified role with the Internet retailer. Parviz's replacement as the Google Glass lead was announced in May as Ivy Ross.

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Amazon charges penny on book orders to avoid French free delivery ban

07/11, 9:38pm

French free delivery book ban circumvented with extremely-low Amazon delivery cost

Amazon is countering a law in France banning free shipping, by charging customers a single euro cent ($0.01) for orders. The law, put in place by the French government in an attempt to protect smaller bookstores from being squeezed out of the marketplace by the online retailer, is being circumvented by the technicality, with French lawmakers seemingly unable to hamper Amazon's sales efforts.

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Amazon asks FAA for exemption permit for Prime Air drone testing

07/11, 12:46pm

Amazon wants to perform outdoor drone testing in United States

Amazon has asked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for permission to fly its in-development Prime Air delivery drones. The petition, filed with the FAA on July 9th and published yesterday, asks for an exemption from the FAA Modernization and Reform Act 2012, which currently permits the civilian outdoor flying of model aircraft only for hobbyists and manufacturers.

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FTC files in-app purchase lawsuit against Amazon, seeks refunds

07/10, 1:37pm

Suit files complaints about wanton, and unauthorized, in-app purchases

According to a US Federal Trade Commission report filed today, Amazon has billed parents and other account holders for millions of dollars in unauthorized in-app charges incurred by children. The FTC's lawsuit seeks a court order requiring refunds for consumers for the unauthorized charges, and permanently banning the company from billing parents and other account holders for in-app charges that have been made without their consent.

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Amazon proposes 100-percent e-book sales cut for Hachette authors

07/08, 4:22pm

Latest Amazon tactic in Hachette negotiations directly involves authors

Amazon is allegedly stepping up in its aggressiveness in terms of its negotiations with book publisher Hachette, by leaning on authors affected in the dispute. The retailer has allegedly made a proposal directly to authors and agents in a letter, which would see Hachette authors receive "100 percent of the sales price of every Hachette e-book we sell," instead of the usual lower royalty split between the authors and the publisher.

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Amazon warns FTC it will take battle over in-app purchases to court

07/02, 6:50pm

Letter to the FTC says news of a possible complaint filing is 'deeply disappointing'

Amazon has decided to take a hard line against the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) pressure to change their approach to in-app purchases. In a letter to the commission, the company stated that it would defend its "customer-centric approach" if the FCC pursued a complaint in Federal court. The government agency is considering suing Amazon over what it calls lax practices to prevent any possibility of unauthorized buying of in-app purchases (IAPs), for example by children.

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Amazon accessory seller sues Apple, Amazon after listings removed

07/02, 7:03am

Deleted accessory listings, counterfeit accusations prompt Amazon seller lawsuit

An accessories retailer has filed a lawsuit against Amazon and Apple, over removed product listing requests and lost sales. Filed last week, Hard 2 Find Accessories claims Amazon took down product listings from its site and suspended its seller's account after a request by Apple, a move which is allegedly costing Hard 2 Find more than $180,000 a month in lost revenues.

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UK book publishers allegedly fighting Amazon over new contract terms

06/27, 8:42am

Amazon seeks right to print out-of-stock books in negotiations with publishers

Amazon is allegedly battling publishers in the United Kingdom for more favorable contract terms, including the right to print out-of-stock books. The retailer wants to be able to print more copies of works if publishers are unable to provide sufficient stock, with the proposal one of a number said to be under negotiation between Amazon and independent publishers.

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Briefly: Facebook spreads Slingshot, London Underground Amazon Lockers

06/25, 7:44am

Facebook Slingshot opens up to all users following US-only launch

Facebook has expanded the reach of its recently-launched reciprocal messaging app Slingshot to the rest of the world, following its United States-only launch. The app, available on iOS and Android internationally, will let recipients of images, video, and text-based messages view the contents only after replying another message back at the original sender.

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FAA document grounds Amazon drones before they can take off

06/24, 5:10pm

Public opinion request on model aircraft clarifies recreation, bars all commercial use

Amazon's fleet of drones may not be dropping packages on doorsteps anytime soon if the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gets it way. In a document asking for public comment on an interpretation on the "special model aircraft" rule, the FAA points out the difference between hobby and business ventures. As the rule applies to the use of drones, Amazon blue-sky drone proposal is left on the pad without being granted permission to take off.

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Amazon, Warner Bros. close to DVD, Blu-ray pricing agreement

06/24, 1:08pm

Preorders for Warner movies become available again on Amazon

Amazon has started to allow preorders of upcoming Warner Bros. DVD and Blu-ray releases on its online store. The two companies are reportedly close to completing negotiations over DVD pricing, a dispute which saw the retailer blocking the early sales of some prominent movies, including The Lego Movie and Transcendence, in an attempt to gain some form of leverage over the media company.

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Code Spaces shuts down after Amazon-hosted customer data obliterated

06/18, 7:19pm

Hosting company returning what data it has, left financially crippled by attack

What started as a denial-of-service-attack (DDOS) has resulted in critical loss of data for code-hosting company Code Spaces yesterday. Code Spaces has decided to throw in the towel when someone deleted the majority of customer data after gaining access to the company's Amazon Web Services (AWS) account. The company, which was left compromised and unable to restore data, made the decision to completely shut down.

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Analysis: Amazon's Fire Phone

06/18, 4:13pm

Did Amazon hit a homerun with the Fire Phone? Or is it another shoehorned Android device?

During a small event in Seattle today, Amazon confirmed the numerous rumors circling the Internet about a smartphone from the company. The Fire Phone was introduced by CEO Jeff Bezos to a crowd of 300, showing off a number of features including a 3D display and Firefly. Electronista writers Mike and Jordan offer some of their opinions on the phone's technology and hardware, the presentation and what effect the Fire Phone may have on future business.

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Amazon builds Firefly quick item, sound search into Fire Phone

06/18, 3:05pm

Dedicated phone button allows for product search, keeps history for future purchases

During the unveiling of Amazon's most recent piece of tech, the Fire Phone, Jeff Bezos introduced a feature called Firefly. The technology will allow phone users to search for items through the camera by holding a button on the phone. The accompanying app will pull up an Amazon listing for a product based on what it sees, rather than relying on just a barcode.

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Amazon reveals Fire Phone with Dynamic Perspective, Firefly

06/18, 1:49pm

Amazon Fire Phone has 4.7-inch display, unlimited photo storage

Amazon's long-rumored smartphone has been unveiled at the retail giant's launch event, and it is called the Fire Phone. The first smartphone from Amazon, the Fire Phone joins the growing stable of hardware including the Kindle, Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HDX, with the mobile device offering a 4.7-inch IPS LCD display with 590 nits of brightness, dynamic image contrast, and a circular polarizer.

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Amazon Appstore heading to BlackBerry in fall operating system update

06/18, 9:31am

Licensing deal brings 240,000 Amazon apps to BlackBerry 10 devices

Owners of BlackBerry smartphones will soon have more apps to choose from, thanks to a licensing arrangement with Amazon. BlackBerry OS version 10.3 will include the Amazon Appstore when it ships in the fall, with the deal giving users more than 240,000 Android apps to use, on top of those already offered through the company's own BlackBerry World store.

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Apple's iBookstore taking advantage of Amazon-Hatchette feud

06/17, 6:36pm

Pre-orders now discounted as titles disappear from Amazon listings

Exactly as predicted by critics, Amazon has begun flexing its muscle as the dominant e-book seller, and is now trying to renegotiate better deals with publishers to help its sagging bottom line. It is currently engaged in a very public fight with Hatchette, and has removed a number of best-sellers from its store as well as delayed or refused orders for other (physical) books. As with Walmart and some other outlets, Apple's iBookstore is now offering discounted pre-orders on the "missing from Amazon" books.

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WSJ: Amazon smartphone will be exclusive to AT&T

06/17, 10:22am

Rumored Amazon smartphone said to ship just on AT&T in United States

Amazon's rumored smartphone could be exclusive to AT&T, according to the Wall Street Journal and other reports. The mobile device, expected to be launched by the retailer tomorrow, will apparently work with just AT&T in the United States, with the claim apparently lending an answer to an earlier rumor about a Prime Data service plan for the phone.

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OSHA investigates accidental death at Amazon warehouse in Pennsylvania

06/13, 1:55pm

Second fatal accident in Amazon warehouses in six-month period

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating the death of an Amazon employee at one of the retailer's warehouses earlier this month. At the same time, OSHA has revealed its findings on another Amazon warehouse employee's death from December, citing violations with a number of companies, but not Amazon itself.

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Amazon launches Prime Music streaming as part of Prime subscription

06/12, 6:29am

Over 1M songs available on Amazon Prime Music at launch

Amazon has launched its long-rumored music streaming service, just one day after reports claiming it would do so this week. Prime Music follows on from Prime Instant Video and the Kindle Lending Library as an extra service included in the $99 annual Prime delivery subscription, giving customers the ability to stream music to multiple devices without any advertising.

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Amazon reportedly firing up streaming music service this week

06/11, 4:38pm

Prime subscriber-only service may have limited catalog, older tunes

Confirming previous rumors, The New York Times purports that Amazon's streaming music service will launch this week, ahead of Amazon's alleged phone launch event next week. The service is said to be for Amazon Prime subscribers, and provide tracks six months after a new release, using a Spotify-like delivery method.

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Amazon stops pre-orders for Warner Bros. movies over contract dispute

06/11, 9:18am

Lego Movie, 300 sequel pre-orders affected by contract negotiations

Amazon has halted pre-orders of some movies heading to DVD and Blu-ray in the coming months, as part of a dispute with Warner Home Video. In a move echoing that of its spat with the Hachette Book Group, the retailer is no longer accepting pre-orders for The Lego Movie, 300: Rise of an Empire, Transcendence, and other titles, in an attempt to gain leverage against the company.

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Amazon preparing subscription payments service launch, claims Reuters

06/09, 12:28pm

Subscription via Amazon payment platform intensifies competition with PayPal

Amazon is expanding the reach of its payment platform, by providing subscription-based payment options to customers, claims a report. Keen to take on PayPal, the retailer is said to be launching the service later today, which will let start-ups and other companies charge a monthly fee, such as a mobile phone bill or music subscription, to cards stored to a customer's Amazon account.

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Amazon smartphone software rumored to use 3D face tracking technology

06/06, 9:28am

Omron Okao Vision claimed to power 3D effect in rumored Amazon smartphone

Amazon's rumored smartphone, expected to launch on June 18th, uses Okao Vision technogy in order for its 3D functionality to work, according to a report. Created by Omron and modified by Amazon's engineers, Okao Vision will allow the smartphone to track the user's face for navigating the user interface, thanks to a collection of four front-mounted infrared cameras.

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Amazon blasts Internet with word of June 18 launch event

06/04, 5:21pm

Device could be rumored smartphone, testimonials indicate visual tracking

A teaser video from Amazon gives some clues to a new device being launched later this month. The company will be announcing a new device on June 18, which many believe will be the long-rumored smartphone. Amazon doesn't say what the device is going to be, but clues can be picked in up various places. By looking at the reactions in the video and seeing other small clues in the invite requests, conclusions can be drawn to the release of the phone with a 3D interface.

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Amazon streaming music service could have restricted song catalog

05/30, 11:57am

Possible June, July launch touted for launch as part of Prime subscription

Amazon's rumored music streaming service could be launching sometime this June or July, though it may have issues competing with Spotify, Beats Music, and other competitors, according to a report. Rather than aiming to provide a wide selection of music, including newer titles, it is rumored Amazon will offer a restricted catalog, using songs and albums that are six months old or order.

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Amazon admits to Hachette book sale disruption over terms dispute

05/28, 6:28am

Retailer offers funding pool co-creation for Hachette authors

Amazon has publicly admitted to disrupting sales of books from publishing group Hachette, via its Kindle forum. The retailer revealed it is not actively buying stock from the publisher in anticipation of sales to customers, and claims the entire escalating feud between the two companies relates to the pricing of books, along with other supply-related terms.

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Amazon battle with Hachette escalates, many books removed from sale

05/23, 1:27pm

Delays on Hachette titles turn into outright sales stops, other sellers affected

The escalating feud between ebook giant Amazon and publishing group Hachette continues go grow more public and ugly. Amazon has, until now, been quietly disrupting sales of book publisher Hachette's titles -- but over the last week, the e-retailer has flat-out refused orders for upcoming titles. A second publisher, Germany-based Bonnier, has been added to the fray as well, with the president of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association Alexander Skipis saying that Amazon is "using its dominant position in the market to blackmail the publishers" to sign more favorable deals.

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Briefly: Netflix plans Europe expansion, HBO shows on Amazon Prime

05/21, 11:49am

Netflix reveals plans to expand into six more European countries

Netflix is expanding its presence in Europe to include six more countries, the company has revealed. Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Luxembourg will receive access to the streaming video service later this year, with content and pricing for each region to be announced in the future. The new additions will likely increase Netflix's international subscriber count upward from the 12.7 million it already has in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia. By contrast, the US has 35.7 million subscribers.

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Italy investigates Apple, Google, others over 'free-to-play' games

05/21, 9:52am

Apps allowed to be marketed as 'free' despite costing money for progress

The Italian Antitrust and Competition Authority has launched an investigation into Amazon, Apple, Gameloft, and Google over complaints that the corporations are misleading people in the way they market "free-to-play" games. A number of mobile games -- including many targeted at children -- are nominally free, but in reality require in-app purchases of digital items, currency, levels, or features in order to make progress. Figures from the European Commission suggest that 80 percent of app revenues now stem from in-app transactions.

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Briefly: Google Play accepting PayPal; GTA III on Amazon tablets, Fire

05/16, 1:35am

Google Play now accepting PayPal as payment for digital goods

PayPal is now an official payment option for purchasing digital content within Google Play. Though a direct competitor with Google's own Wallet payment service, users can activate the new payment option by clicking "Add PayPal" and typing in one's login details. Google Play has also expanded its carrier billing and gift card availability to more regions, including Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan.

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Mediabridge Amazon seller's account suspended after threat to customer

05/09, 9:50am

Legal threat to customer alleging libel goes viral, causes loss of account

In the wake of an Amazon reviewer receiving a legal threat to take down a negative and accusatory review being made public -- and the resultant public umbrage -- networking company Mediabridge has had its Amazon selling privileges revoked. A Facebook statement by the router maker noted the withdrawal of its ability to sell on Amazon, and has also tried to clarify the situation and the company's stance on the review.

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USPTO grants Amazon seamless white background photography patent

05/08, 6:00pm

'Studio arrangement' process for true white backdrop photos filed in 2011

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted a questionable patent to Amazon in March, which gives the online retailer a hold on a common photography practice. Called "studio arrangement," the practice awarded the patent is an instruction set that outlines specific light and object placement to achieve photos of a subject on a white background, as well as steps for the process -- which has used by retailers for catalogs since the beginning of commercial photography.

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Tech companies sign joint letter opposing FCC net neutrality proposals

05/08, 7:06am

Google, Facebook, Amazon among coalition asking for FCC to reconsider net rules

A coalition of technology companies have co-signed a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over its net neutrality proposals. Signed by over a hundred Internet companies, including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, and Amazon, the letter asks the FCC to reconsider what the companies claim "represents a grave threat to the Internet."

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Mediabridge takes offense to Amazon review, threatens legal action

05/07, 6:08pm

User claims router has poor performance, false reviews

Wireless networking equipment manufacturer Mediabridge is threatening to sue an Amazon reviewer unless he deletes his negative review of the Medialink Wireless-N Broadband Router. User "TD" posted the "most helpful" negative review of the router, and subsequently recieved a warning that the review has "harmed Mediabridge and we intend to hold you liable for all damages sustained."

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Apple ranks first in JD Power tablet satisfaction survey

05/07, 3:17pm

Average selling prices of tablets falling

Apple has taken the top spot in a JD Power satisfaction survey of US tablet customers. The iPad brought Apple a score of 830 out of 1,000, and a full five stars on the company's Power Circle ratings. Samsung managed a score of 822, but just three stars. ASUS and Amazon also received three stars, with slightly lower scores of 820 and 817, respectively. Overall consumer satisfaction has dropped from 853 points in 2012 to 835 in 2014.

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Report: Apple jumps 24 percent to claim second in online retail

05/07, 1:01am

Amazon still king, but business model lags behind rivals in profitability

While Amazon is still the undisputed king of the hill in terms of selling things online, a pair of factors have worked together to allow Apple to jump 24 percent in online sales over the last year, knocking out Staples from its traditional second-place spot. Apple's online sales are only about a quarter of the total gross revenue Amazon pulls in -- but with 800 million credit cards on file and continuing direct competition between the two, Apple's rise (and far higher profitability) make be making the king a little nervous.

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Amazon adds shopping using Twitter hashtags in US, UK

05/05, 11:33am

Twitter users reply to posts with hashtag to add items to Amazon cart

Amazon is expanding its purchasing options, by allowing customers to shop for products by posting on Twitter. Introduced today, users of both services can add items featured on the social media site directly to their Amazon.com cart by responding to specific posts with #AmazonCart, with the product then shown in the checkout section of Amazon's website for later purchase.

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Leaked render reportedly shows final form of rumored Amazon smartphone

05/01, 12:45pm

Amazon smartphone render reveals large display, possible glass back

Amazon's rumored smartphone has allegedly surfaced in an image leak. A render of the complete device, displaying both the front and the back of the smartphone, is said to show what the smartphone looks like under the protective covering it was previously photographed using, with the design being a slight departure from the chisled construction the Kindle Fire HDX range uses.

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Briefly: New PS4 update, XBMC Hub guides for Amazon Fire TV install

04/30, 8:22pm

Sony releases first substantial update for PS 4

Sony released its first notable update for its PS4 game console today, offering new features that focus primarily on social elements. A new video-editing app, ShareFactory, will be available from the PS4 home screen, allowing users to capture gameplay and customize recorded footage with various special effects, to ultimately share the video via Facebook or save it to a USB.

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