Amazon is working with Taiwanese electronics company Foxconn to develop an iPhone and Android smartphone rival, according to Bloomberg. It is also seeking to buy wireless technology patents that would also help protect against infringement allegations.
The Seattle-based Internet retailer expressed interest in InterDigital’s wireless patents, but Intel bought the intellectual property for $375 million. Amazon has been involved in five patent lawsuits this year, and 20 patent cases last year.
To protect its patents, Amazon hired Matt Gordon, the former senior director of acquisitions at Intellectual Ventures Management. Gordon will be the general manager for patent acquisitions and investments at Amazon. IVM, which owns more than 35,000 intellectual property patents, was founded by Nathan Myhrvold, the former chief technology officer of Microsoft.
The plan to release a smartphone may have been in the works for a while now, as Citigroup analysts speculated that the Internet retailer was working with Foxconn to develop a smartphone to be released in the fourth quarter of 2012 in November of last year.
In addition to the smartphone, Amazon is also preparing to release at least three second-generation Kindle Fires, one of which will have 4G. According to Richard Shim, an analyst at NPD DisplaySearch, Amazon is planning three 7-inch Kindle Fire 2 models: one with no camera, one with a camera, and one with a camera and 4G. The fourth model will be 8.9 inches, but no details were given about whether it would have a camera or 4G.
The second-generation of Kindle Fires will face some stiff competition from the Apple iPad and the Google Nexus 7. The three companies are also battling it out in app marketplaces, with the Amazon Android Appstore rivaling Google’s Play Store and the Apple App Store.
A spokesperson for Amazon declined to comment on the smartphone’s development, and so far there is no name or release date for the device.