Amazon.com is, indeed, working on its own smartphone to compete with Apple and Google, according to a report from Bloomberg News tonight, citing anonymous sources.
The device would run a modified version of Android, like the company’s Kindle Fire tablet, and Amazon has hired a former Intellectual Ventures executive to get its intellectual-property portfolio ready for the smartphone patent wars.
Amazon isn’t commenting on the report.
The company shook up the tablet market with the $199, 7-inch Kindle Fire, subsidizing the device itself in hopes of selling more movies, music, Amazon Prime subscriptions and other products to users of the tablet. The need to work with wireless carriers could make it tougher to follow a similar approach with a phone. However, the company does have plenty of experience in the smartphone market as a retailer through its Amazon Wireless store.
The report confirms an idea first floated by Citigroup analysts last fall.
“With the clear success of the Kindle e-Reader over the past 3 years, and Kindle Fire possibly succeeding in the low-priced Tablet market, we view this as the next logical step for Amazon,” wrote the analysts, Mark Mahaney and Kevin Chang, at the time.
The move would give Amazon’s corporate neighbor Microsoft more competition for the No. 3 spot in the smartphone market.
Of course, the big question is: Will it have an airbag?