Amazon Kindle smartphone near tip insiders

The smartphone wars are about to crank up a notch, with retailer Amazon tipped to be readying a handset of its own that, while likely based on Android, would undoubtedly diverge from Google's ambitions for the platform. Amazon is working with Foxconn – the company that also produces Apple's iPhone – according to insider whispers to Bloomberg, with the retailer apparently quietly building up its mobile patent portfolio in a pre-emptive defense against smartphone lawsuits.

That IP shopping spree has seen Amazon negotiate with InterDigital, among others, though the company went on to sell its patents to Intel. Amazon also recently employed IP expert Matt Gordon, who will lead the retailer's patent acquisitions and investments moving forward.

Exactly what Amazon's device will look like is unknown, though it's not hard to speculate on the combination of software and hardware. The Kindle Fire tablet, for instance, runs a heavily-reskinned version of Android on  relatively mainstream components, targeting a low price rather than the sort of flagship specifications that would put it in direct competition with Apple's iPad.

That leaves content purchases – such as ebooks, music and movies – to offset the initial price, a strategy Amazon is all but guaranteed to follow if it does indeed release a phone. There have been repeated rumors of a larger, roughly 10-inch Kindle Fire tablet in the pipeline as well, with Amazon's cloud storage providing a central place for streaming multimedia.