According to their unnamed sources, the gaming console will run Android (this we could have guessed), and compete with both streaming set top boxes like Roku and game consoles like the Xbox:
Senior publishing sources have been meeting with Amazon for a briefing on the hardware – which currently goes by a number of different codenames – and popular Android and iOS games have been used to demo the device.
The unit being shown to publishers at this point is said to be roughly the same size as the PSone redesign, grey in colour, oblong in shape and with sharp edges. However, the pre-production unit is likely to have a full makeover before any official release.
The hardware is being created in conjunction with subsidiary Lab 126, designers of Amazon’s Kindle devices.
They also added that the device is expected before the end of the year with a retail of $300.
Did you catch that bit about the iOS games? If that is accurate (and the device exists, and it hits the market) we could be looking at a very different device than simply a gaming console.
iOS games can only be played on the iPad and iPhone, so if they made an appearance on the Firetube (a trademark filing suggest that this could be the name) then that might be a sign that the Firetube might be able to pair with the iPad and mirror its display on a large screen TV. You could play the game on the iPad while looking at the TV, much like the Nintendo WiiU pairs a tablet-like controller with its console.
The above speculation might strike you as implausible given that Amazon doesn't sell iOS games and thus would have no interest in the iPad, but Amazon has just started letting developers charge for HTML5-based apps. If Amazon wanted to profit from selling apps for the iPad they would have to be based on HTML5. And given the sheer number of iPads (nearly 200 million as of last quarter) I would bet that Amazon is looking at the iPad covetously.
But at this point that is all speculation, and I wouldn't put too much weight into it. There's been no real evidence to prove that the FireTube exists outside of a lab, and until a benchmark leaks online or until a reliable site like Boy Genius Report posts photos or specs, I don't intend to take it all that seriously.
And while I do tend to believe that Amazon has some type of set top box under development, I also know that simply because it is under development doesn't guarantee that Amazon will ever release it. They might decide that it simply isn't practical or profitable, or it could die as a result of internal politics. Who knows.