Latest Amazon hire fuels talk of phone push

AMAZON has fuelled speculation that it is set to enter the smartphone market by hiring a former Microsoft executive who worked in the company’s Windows Phone division.

Charlie Kindel, who worked for Microsoft for 20 years, recently updated his profile on the professional social network LinkedIn to reveal that he had joined Amazon to work on “something secret” in a “totally new area”.

The move is the latest hint that the company, best known for its web retailing operation, is set to challenge the likes of Apple and Samsung with a Kindle phone.

In July last year, the company bought UpNext, a 3D mapping company and in January it purchased Ivona, a voice recognition firm in the vein of Apple’s Siri. Both features are now seen as essential on a smartphone. Amazon has also recently ramped up recruitment at its Seattle office where the Kindle tablet was developed.

The company already has experience making hardware, having built its ebook empire on the Kindle ereader device, and launching a tablet computer, the Kindle Fire, 18 months ago. Entering the smartphone business would enable Amazon’s music, video and ebook download services to be on a level playing field with both Google’s and Apple’s.

Kindel worked on Microsoft’s Windows Media Centre business before moving to Windows Phone and leaving in 2011.

The company could not be reached for comment on the significance of Kindel’s hiring.