Amazon smartphone rumours re-emerge

Rumours that online bookseller Amazon might be developing its own smartphone gathered momentum after it announced that it had hired a a 20-year Microsoft veteran who most recently worked in its Windows Phone unit.

The now ironically named Charlie Kindel was a top suit who joined Microsoft in 1990 and led its Windows Media Centre and Windows Phone developer platform.  He left in 2011 to work on two start-ups in the Seattle area.

Kindel said that his new role at Amazon was “something secret” but he would be building a new team going after a totally new area for Amazon.

Apparently he is looking for cloud and mobile developers and testers, program managers, and product managers.

He is the third mobile Microsoftie to be poached by Amazon in the last year which seems to suggest that rumours that the company is working on a smartphone are true.

Some analysts had expected a Kindle smartphone to launch last year and Foxconn was named as working on the hardware. In January, Amazon acquired Ivona, a computer speech provider which could be used to create a voice assistant.

Amazon chief Jeff Bezos has not confirmed the rumours but has told anyone who asked to “stay tuned”.

The Financial Times points out that Kindel’s experience in creating platforms for mobile app developers and products that deliver digital music and movies around the home might have other uses in Amazon’s businesses, including cloud storage and streaming media.

However, a smartphone is being tipped as a good way for Amazon to bind consumers more tightly to its walled garden of digital media, physical products, cloud computing services and hardware.

Amazon has used both its Kindle ereaders and its Kindle Fire tablet computers to generate sales and foster greater customer loyalty by making it easier for people to buy books, music and movies.

Smartphones are becoming increasingly important to consumer shopping as customers browse ecommerce sites while on the move and to compare prices while in bricks-and-mortar stores.