Amazon hires Windows Phone honcho to go after 'totally new area'

Amazon has added Microsoft's ex-Windows Phone General Manager to its stable of talent. Could this be a big name hire for developing the Amazon Kindle phone?

The former Microsoft man is named Kindel, Charlie Kindel, so we'd say he has the proper pedigree to help Amazon break into the market with an Amazon Phone or Kindle Phone, whatever the name ends up being. And despite the naming coincidence and the news breaking on April 1, we're confident there's nothing phony about this story.

"I'm 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," Kindel commented, immediately sending the internet into a flurry of rumors and sidelong interpretations.

Amazon phone will miss rumored Q2 2013 release date, still looking like a Foxconn product

It's all still the stuff of rumors, but previous rumblings pegged the Amazon Phone (or maybe Kindle Phone) as arriving in the second quarter of 2013. Now it looks as though that deadline will make a delightful whooshing noise as it blows past.

Somewhat infamous manufacturing mogul Foxconn is said to be on deck to produce the dirt cheap device. Its subsidiary Ensky Tech made the original Kindle Fire and now produces the Kindle Fire HD and the Kindle Paperwhite, so it would be no shock at all to see the two collaborate on the project.

As far as what's causing the delay, a report at Digitimes blames the "engineering verification test period due to issues related to its mobile platform," saying that the process, "has not been as smooth as expected."

This is surprising, given the great deal of experience Foxconn and its partners have in this field. It has us wondering what Amazon could have up its sleeve that's making the phone such a bother. As always, rumors are like cheap takeout; they just leaving you hungry for more.

Foxconn to manufacture Amazon phone for summer 2013 release date

This might be the most concrete rumor yet regarding the Amazon phone. Supposedly the online retail giant has inked a deal with Foxconn to manufacture its first smartphone. Industry insiders also expect a summer 2013 release.

According to the reports, the phone may also have a dirt-cheap asking price of $100-200 (about £60-120/AU$95-190). This would fall in step with Amazon's strategy with its Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Paperwhite line, devices sold at highly competitive prices in order to get customers investing in Amazon's media library.

While the involvement of Foxconn is not surprising, since the company has become a prolific manufacturer of all things electronic, it is somewhat troubling given its reputation for overworked, striking employees. Maybe the Amazon phone will be one of the first devices assembled in American Foxconn factories?

Amazon Phone rumors catch fire

Rumors of an Amazon Phone started to catch on in late 2011, when analysts began predicting the Amazon Phone's existence, despite a lack of hard evidence.

That hard evidence, by the way, still hasn't made an appearance, but that hasn't stopped the rumor mill from churning away.

Kicking things off, analyst firm CitiGroup reported that it discovered the existence of the then-unheard of Amazon Phone through its "supply chain channel checks in Asia."

Analyst Mark Mahaney led the Amazon Phone charge, proclaiming that the bookseller was in cahoots with infamous Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn to build the device.

Other analysts agreed: "A smartphone would be a logical next step for Amazon," ABI Research's Aapo Markkanen told Wired in May.

"The lock-in effect of a great content ecosystem shouldn't be under-estimated," he continued.

Bloomberg fed more fuel to the Amazon Phone fire in July, when its anonymous sources ("people with knowledge of the matter") confirmed that Amazon and Foxconn remained hard at work on the smartphone.

Further, the same report claimed that Amazon is busy hoarding as many wireless patents as possible to defend itself from the inevitable infringement suits that follow any modicum of success in the market.

Windows Phone executives board the good ship Amazon

The summer heat must have helped the Amazon Phone fires spread, as July gave birth to yet another bout of speculation when two Windows Phone vets joined Amazon.

First Brandon Watson left the Windows Phone team to become Amazon's director of Kindle cross platform, then Robert Williams, previously Windows Phone's senior director of business development, joined Amazon as its app store director.

Of course, the mere fact that the two previously worked on Windows Phone in no way proved that Amazon had brought them on to work on its own phone - but then again, it's not that far of a stretch, is it?

To further stoke the flames, it appeared toward the end of July that Amazon's innovation center - Lab 126 - had been hiring workers to develop new mobile devices that would run on wireless carriers' networks.

In other words: an Amazon Phone. Imagine that.

Alex Roth contributed to the creation and upkeep of this hub page