New Amazon hire hints at 'something secret'
The recruitment of a Microsoft executive involved in the Windows phone suggests that the online retailer is serious about introducing its own smartphone.
Amazon.com (AMZN) has increasingly been getting into the hardware business, most notably with its Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets. The company's latest hire suggests the online retailer could be expanding its hardware presence.
The Seattle-based Amazon recruited the former general manager of Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows phone, Charlie Kindel, to work on "something special." (Microsoft publishes MSN Money.) Kindel's LinkedIn page describes his new job as "building a new team going after a totally new area for Amazon. I'm hiring cloud and mobile developers and testers, program managers and product managers."
In an interview with the Seattle-based GeekWire technology news site, Kindel (kinda funny his last name is spelled almost exactly like Amazon's e-reader and tablets) said Amazon provided him with an extraordinary opportunity to venture into something new.
"Amazon presented an opportunity to build something new that has ginormous potential," Kindel said during the interview. "I simply couldn't pass the opportunity up. As a double bonus, the idea that I can work in such a principled and customer focused company is really exciting to me."
Tools for buying online
Amazon has been reportedly working on a smartphone for some time, though the company has yet to announce anything definite. Recent reports suggest the phone is delayed due to issues related to its mobile platform. It reportedly will run off Google's (GOOG) Android operating system, as does the Kindle Fire.
In recent days, Amazon has been positioning its Kindle Fire HD as a low-cost alternative to Apple's (AAPL) market-leading iPad. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took a clear shot at Apple when he announced the Kindle Fire HD in September, saying his goal was to offer the best tablet at any price.
Amazon seems hell-bent on providing more platforms for its customers to purchase goods and services from the company. Bezos has said that Amazon wants to make money when its users use the products, not when they purchase them. He later revealed that Amazon sells its tablets at cost, so it would not be much of a stretch to suggest that an Amazon-branded smartphone would be sold at cost as well.
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Dubbed 'Project Ara,' the phone would have interchangeable parts, such as cameras or lighters, that could be slotted into a metal frame and held in place by magnets.
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