Virgin+Apple; Amazon+HBO; Samsung+Gaikai: The Art of the Deal

Virgin's landed the iPhone. Kindle's connected to HBO Go. Samsung's diving deep into gaming with Gaikai. Yeah, the deals are flying hot and heavy in tech land this week.

Kissed For the Very First Time: This morning, Virgin Mobile announced it will offer the iPhone 4 and 4S to pre-pay (no-contract, pay-as-you-go) customers, following in the wake of last week's news  that Leap Wireless' Cricket brand will do likewise. Virgin is demanding  a bit more for the no-contract smart phones  - $649 for a 16 GB iPhone 4S and $549 for an 8 GB iPhone 4. But Virgin's pushing cheaper Beyond Talk plans through parent company Sprint, starting at $30 for 300 minutes, unlimited texting and "unlimited"  (kinda, sorta) 3G data  for customers who agree to auto pay with a credit card, debit card or PayPal. (Cricket's basic but all-you-can-eat plan for iPhones costs $55 a month.) 

And then of course, Virgin Mobile iPhones will operate on Sprint's 3G network, which goes almost EVERYWHERE, unlike Cricket which has to jump customer calls to other carriers in small towns like Boston and  New York. 

Kindle Canoodles with HBO: As tablet owners know, it's not the spiffy hardware but all the cool applications that get you talking about and using the device. And one of the best apps in the iPad and Android world has just been landed by Amazon for its Kindle tablet - the flashy and content-rich HBO Go.

Subscribers to HBO on participating  pay TV services can now enjoy the same array of movies, comedy specials, boxing matches, etc.   on-demand on a Kindle, whenever you're in a friendly Wi-Fi zone. 

 In fact, some content lives a lot longer on the mobile app than it does in cable/satellite program rotation. The HBO original movie "Hemingway and Gellhorn" (Clive Owen/Nichole Kidman) which I keep missing on DirecTV streamed perfectly on my Kindle this morning.

 Ironically, Time-Warner Cable (which owns HBO) has not made a deal with Amazon for Kindle carriage. Nor has DISH Network or Bright House. But it's ready and waiting (after signing in with your account ID)  for customers of Comcast, DirecTV, Verizon, AT&T U-Verse, Charter, Cox and RCN.  Enjoy.

Gamesmanship: The big three game console/software makers (Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony) have earned  most  of the buzz at this week's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) with their new apps, titles  and (in Nintendo's case) system. But one might argue that the E3-popped   "Samsung Cloud Gaming" might be an auguering of the next big thing - tele-gaming. 

 Developed with the leading cloud-based video game platform provider Gaikai, the  new service  will deliver both family-friendly and "AAA" (serious, high end) video game titles directly to Samsung TVs in under a minute "without any need to download, install or patch/update games."

 As it requires lots of computing power, the service will only work at first with high end 2012 Samsung 7000 and 8000 series TVs which boast dual core processors, a fair amount of RAM and ports for future upgradability. But as Samsung fabricates  its own chips, one can easily imagine this technology filtering down to the rest of its TV line - and maybe those of competitors?  

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