Microsoft exec's defection adds to Amazon phone mystery

A new clue for the latest parlor game on Amazon's possible entry into the smartphone race.

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This may rate as one of the tech industry's worst-kept secrets, but another clue has surfaced to suggest that, yes, Amazon is indeed hard at work developing its own phone.

If you're keeping score, the latest data point concerns the job-hopping status of one Robert Williams, who used to be the top business development exec at Microsoft's Windows Phone division. Williams has now joined Amazon -- we know this thanks to Williams, who blabbed the news on his Twitter feed, complete with a tweak to his bio with this tease: "working on a top secret project called....oops, gotta go." (Good thing it's Amazon; at Apple, that's a crime punishable by death.)

We've contacted Amazon for comment and will update the post when we hear back. But the personnel move follows in the aftermath of a recent Bloomberg report that Amazon is working with Foxconn to build a device that would challenge the iPhone and Android-based phones. Separately, here's one more to toss in for today's tea leaf-reading ritual: The Wall Street Journal's sources confirm that Amazon is testing a device said to feature a screen in the neighborhood of four to five inches.

By way of context, don't forget this prediction from late last year when Citigroup also claimed the existence of an Amazon-Foxconn collaboration on a smartphone with the projected debut date sometime in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Rich Edmonds of WP Central reminds everyone that Brandon Watson, who used to be Microsoft's director of developer experience for Windows Phone, joined Amazon five months ago to work on the Kindle.

About the author

Charles Cooper is an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet. E-mail Charlie.

 

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