Amazon grabs ex-Windows Phone app chief amid Kindle phone chatter

A former Microsoft Windows Phone exec has jumped ship to Amazon, where he will head the retailer's Appstore efforts, lending further weight to rumors that the company plans a smartphone of its own. Robert Williams was, until last month, Microsoft's senior director of business development in the Windows Phone division, but according to his LinkedIn profile is now working with Amazon to feather the app nest for what's speculated to be the company's push into mobile.

Rumors of a Kindle smartphone have persisted for some months now, with Amazon's Appstore software distribution being seen as a footstep toward a full device under its own brand. That, it's speculated, would follow a similar near-loss-leader strategy as the Kindle ereaders, with cheap hardware being balanced against the promise of long-term content purchases from Amazon's ebook, music, movie and other stores.

Williams worked as business development lead for four years with Microsoft, and before that was senior director of the company's "Premium Mobile Experiences" group. His exact role at Amazon is unclear, though the retailer has been bullish on its intention to push apps as another string to its digital content bow.

That could come into play for an Amazon phone, or indeed new Kindle Fire tablets. As well as a refresh for the current, 7-inch model, there's also talk of a larger 10-inch Kindle Fire in the pipeline, both running Google's Android OS albeit with heavy reskinning.

Yesterday, Amazon launched GameCircle, the company's cross-device synchronization and leaderboard system for mobile gamers. That puts the company head to head with Apple's Game Center.

[via The Verge]