Amazon launches GameCircle interactive features for Kindle Fire

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Amazon is introducing GameCircle, enabling developers to integrate new social interactions into games optimized for the digital retailer's Android-powered Kindle Fire tablet.

Clearly modeled after Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) Game Center platform, Amazon's new GameCircle APIs include Achievements, enabling players to track trophies, treasures, badges and awards without exiting the gaming experience. Users can receive in-game messages to keep track of their accomplishments in real time--they can also pause a title to view an achievements summary to check earned collections and identify which badges they must still collect before returning to gameplay. GameCircle also brings Leaderboards providing in-game score comparisons and percentile rankings, allowing players to measure their progress against other gamers without leaving a title.

GameCircle additionally leverages Amazon's cloud services platform to introduce new Sync features that automatically save players' in-game progress to the cloud, allowing them to pick up where they left off when restoring a deleted game or moving between Kindle Fire devices. All scores and achievements are stored for free.

Developers may request an invitation to the GameCircle API program here.

Amazon introduced the Kindle Fire in late 2011. Priced at $199, compared to $499 for Apple's cheapest iPad, the Kindle Fire touts a seven-inch, color touchscreen and offers access to a host of digital media initiatives including the Amazon Appstore for Android, the Kindle e-book catalog, Amazon Instant Video and Amazon MP3, with all content backed up in the cloud. The Kindle Fire also integrates with the Amazon Web Services platform.

Amazon Appstore for Android, which launched last year, recently incorporated in-app purchasing capabilities--the retailer is also in the process of rolling out the storefront to a host of international markets. Developers generate substantially greater revenues per user in the Amazon Appstore than in the rival Google Play storefront, according to recent data published by app store analytics firm Flurry. For every $1 generated by Apple's pacesetting App Store for iOS, Amazon Appstore yields an average of $0.89 per user, while Google Play earns developers just $0.23 per user, Flurry reports. The company credits Amazon Appstore's success to the company's digital retail expertise, while Google's strengths are its search tools and advertising technologies.

Beyond the Kindle Fire, multiple reports indicate Amazon is developing its own branded smartphone to more effectively compete with Apple and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) in the battle for digital media supremacy. Citing two sources with knowledge of the matter, Bloomberg recently reported that Amazon is working with Chinese manufacturer Foxconn to develop the device. Unlike Apple, which relies on content from its iTunes digital media storefront and App Store to boost sales of hardware like the iPhone and iPad--and unlike Google, which looks to its open-source Android operating system to fuel revenues derived from its core advertising and search services--Amazon depends on affordable hardware to drive sales of multimedia content.

For more:
- read this Amazon Mobile App Distribution Blog entry

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