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Amazon readying smartphone to compete with Apple, Google?

Echoing earlier reports of an Amazon phone, Bloomberg says that the e-commerce giant is working with Foxconn on the device.

Amazon is reportedly dialing up its battle with Apple and Google by developing its own smartphone.

The Internet retail giant is working with hardware maker Foxconn to create a device to challenge the iPhone and Android-based phones, sources tell Bloomberg. The company is also beefing up its portfolio of patents covering wireless technologies to head off expected legal challenges, other sources told Bloomberg.

CNET has contacted Amazon for comment and will update this report when we learn more.

This isn't the first time we've heard rumblings of Amazon working on a smartphone of its own. Citigroup analysts suggested last November that the Seattle-based e-commerce giant was working with Foxconn to develop a smartphone slated for release in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Indeed, CNET executive editor David Carnoy argued that it's not a matter of if but when Amazon would launch a smartphone. "I think it's only a matter of time before you see a Kindle smartphone; ultimately, Jeff Bezos knows that his company is going to have to compete directly against the iPhone if he wants Amazon to be Apple -- or even beat it," he wrote.

Although a distant player in the tablet market, Amazon is also said to be readying the release of its second-generation Kindle Fire, which is expected to put a little heat on Apple's iPad and the Nexus 7, the Android-powered tablet Google unveiled last month at Google I/O. The trio also compete in the app arena, with Amazon's Android Appstore challenging Apple's App Store and Google Play Store for mobile users' business.