Amazon Hires Smartphone Expert

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Amazon has hired a 20-year Microsoft veteran who most recently worked in its Windows Phone unit, fueling speculation that the online retailer and Kindle maker may be developing a smartphone.

Charlie Kindel joined Microsoft in 1990, according to his LinkedIn profile, and went on to lead its Windows Media Centre and Windows Phone developer platform before leaving in 2011 to work on two start-ups in the Seattle area.

Mr Kindel updated his profile on the professional networking site on Monday to include a new role at Amazon, described only as "something secret".

"I'm building a new team going after a totally new area for Amazon," he wrote. "I'm hiring cloud and mobile developers and testers, program managers, and product managers."

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He joins two other senior Windows Phone managers poached by Amazon last year amid rumors the company is working on a smartphone, in addition to its low-priced ereaders and tablets, to compete with Apple and Samsung.

Some analysts had expected a Kindle smartphone to launch last year while reports last summer suggested Amazon was working with Foxconn, manufacturer of the iPhone and many other consumer electronics devices, on the product. In November, asked by television interviewer Charlie Rose about the rumors, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos told the chat-show host to "stay tuned".