newkindlethumb.jpg Following months of rumors of an Amazon smartphone, it looks like the company is going to make far greater strides into the hardware market, with a range of tablets and other devices to create demand for its digital content. The company is also opening up a new design center in London, England for future digital products. 

Amazon's Pals Let Slip

While initially successful, Amazon's Kindle Fire left obvious gaps in the market for the company to fill, and we'll soon have a more powerful successor device. But, Amazon is unlikely to stop there, with plans to develop more content-sucking devices for eager consumers.

For example, one partner, Staples reckons that Amazon will bring out five, possibly six, new tablets to create an attractive range across all budgets. The range would be hugely popular as family seasonal gifts, with multiple purchases within a home a likely way to share content across many screens.

Ranging in screen size and memory, they'll cater for most usage scenarios and be a compelling rival to Google's own Nexus tablet and Apple's range of iPads. With that many models, you do wonder if it will stray from the current Android-only approach and perhaps ship a Windows RT model, to appeal to the computing-centric user.

To up the ante in the content department, Amazon has just inked a video-on-demand deal with Warner for the likes of The West Wing, Fringe and other hit shows to appear for an exclusive period on the Prime platform. 

Smart to go Mobile

Amazon reports on Thursday, after Apple's Tuesday numbers in what will be a busy week for financials. Don't expect any announcements at the financial analyst-centric call, but in the wake of high-profile recent Microsoft, Samsung and other product launches, expect Amazon to continue our golden summer of new hardware.

To drive this growth in hardware, Amazon created its own design department, Lab 126, to build products that will both appeal and push Amazon's content. Recent job postings for the lab have highlighted mobile experience in a number of areas, which points firmly in the direction of a smartphone coming, sooner rather than later. Amazon has hired former Apple and Windows Phone product people for the lab, reinforcing this idea.

The company is also opening up a new design center in London, England to focus on the development of new digital media products. These include interactive digital services for TVs, games consoles, smartphones, PCs and websites, with high levels of customer experience and creating the associated APIs for developers.