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Amazon has amazingly transformed, from a modest bookseller into a services company: now offers Kindle Lending Library for e-books, plus streaming services like Amazon Instant Video and Prime Music.

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Nevertheless, Amazon’s new preoccupation is hardware. The company’s first phone packs Firefly, a visual search engine. The new gadget enables using a powerful image-based search system to shop Amazon.com with one touch. Called the Fire phone, it’s a unique mating of Amazon’s device and services initiative.

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The gadgets Amazon and Lab 126 design — like Kindle Fire tablet are not about intrinsic beauty —- rather a lot about reading e-books, or watching movies or listening to music that comes as part of your annual Prime subscription. These Fire devices feed directly into the company’s slew of services.

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Talking about hardware Amazon looks like has used a multi-pronged approach: it has kept focus on real-time customer service with pre-existing features like Mayday and alternative user interface controls and perspectives — what Amazon calls Dynamic Perspective — made possible by all those front-facing cameras. Nonetheless, game changer for Amazon’s Fire phone appears to be Firefly.

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With a light tap on the dedicated Firefly key, your Fire phone can sense the material world around you. Firefly can discern and identify audio from the radio or TV the exact same way a service like Shazam does. It can also skim works of art, DVDs, books or tchotchkes sitting in front of you and deliver related information and shopping links.

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Firefly doesn’t just enables buying stuff —– it produces related Wikipedia articles for objects of interest. It offers you book reviews and recognize phone numbers from street signage. It’s the real-life experience Fire phone creates that would make it stand apart. The Fire phone starts at $199 with a contract and it’s an AT&T exclusive.