Windows Phone exec. joins Amazon as smartphone rumors swirl

Windows Phone exec. joins Amazon as smartphone rumors swirl

Summary: A former Microsoft Windows Phone director has joined Amazon ahead of rumors that the retail giant is pushing for a smartphone debut later this year.

TOPICS: Amazon, Microsoft

A senior Microsoft director has left the company to join Amazon, ahead of swirling rumours that the retail giant will challenge the duopoly of Google and Apple in the smartphone space and debut its own mobile device by the end of the year.

Robert Williams, former Microsoft senior director of Windows Phone business development, left the company after more than 15 years in July and joined Amazon.

He takes up the position as "Director App Store" at Amazon, according to his recently updated LinkedIn profile, suggesting he will run Amazon's mobile application store based on his prior experience in the smartphone space at Microsoft.

A recent tweet showed he was "at work" at Amazon

Williams was the lead behind the range of apps available on the Windows Phone platform. His move --- to what we presume is Amazon's application store unit --- marks a similar role with additional responsibilities.

He is the third high-profile Windows Phone staffer to leave the company in the past year, notably Charlie Kindel who left Microsoft in 2011, and Brandon Watson who joined the retail giant to work on the Kindle platform. (If only it were the other way around: "Kindel on Kindle," that'd be just perfect. Alas, no.) 

On Wednesday, we reported that Amazon was in the "smartphone testing" phase with plans to start production later this year in time for the Christmas holidays. 

There are two things to consider here:

Microsoft could be planning on licensing out its Windows Phone operating system to Amazon to take on the giants of the iPhone and Android device base. Or, as rumours suggest, Amazon is developing for Android and Microsoft is simply unable to retain key talent and senior leads are defecting to a rival firm to make a go of it elsewhere. 

No doubt ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley can enlighten us later on today, or pour a hearty glass of cold water on the idea. 

ZDNet sought comment from Microsoft and Amazon, but did not receive a reply at the time of writing. We'll update you if we hear anything back. 

Topics: Amazon, Microsoft

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  • $100 Says It's Android Based

    They already have the experience with android and it's market proven with the Kindle.
    Alan Smithie
    • Yes, Alan

      I will go with you, without the $100 though.
    • not so sure about that.

      Android is a POS and with Google launching the Nexus 7...Amazon probably isn't very happy with Google these days. What would an MS Director of Apps know about Android? Sorry but this could be an MS based phone and if so could be a huge win for MS and Amazon.
    • It would make more sense for Amazon to go with WP8, since, in the Android

      smartphone arena, they'd be just another player, competing against a huge array of manufacturers/sellers that pervades the platform.

      With WP8, they would have the opportunity to create a big competitive product, and one that would be able to play nicely in the Windows platform with all the other form-factors. With Windows 8, they also have an opportunity to move into the Windows tablets arena, and, the Fire would be the last one of its kind produced by Amazon. So, it could be that, Amazon is pulling the people from Microsoft who will already understand the platform and ecosystem, and, Microsoft was willing to "part" with them in order to gain a huge partner for WP8 and the Surface tablets.
      • Ask Nokia about WP7

        It's really saved the company and boosted their share price
        Alan Smithie
        • Look again. WP7 is not the same as WP8.

          And, the Windows platform has a lot more going for it, than any other platform around, including iOS or Android. WP8 will be part of the whole Windows ecosystem, and that's a sure-fire winner on any planet.

          But, even WP7 was/is a better smartphone OS than iOS or Android. However, with the WP8, there are already many manufacturers lining up to create smartphones with WP8 inside, and even Verizon and other plan providers are stating that, they'll support the platform.

          Try to keep up. The world is apparently moving too fast for you.
          • The great Windows platform

            They say, if something can't be brought for money, it can be brought for more money. According to this wisdom, Microsoft could make me use Windows, but they will have to pay me a lot.

            "Windows" has nothing in particular to offer. Just an collection of code, sold by Microsoft. Not much more than any other collection of code by anyone else.

            Microsoft made wrong choice to call their mobile OS "Windows", but then, they didn't ask me ;-)
      • Play nicely with Windows...

        Why would Amazon even think about their mobile devices playing nicely with Windows or anything else around? Their mobile devices need to only play nicely with the Amazon store online and that's it.

        Amazon can use any OS for their devices and customer would care less. Obviously, they have already invested to learn how to use Linux (not only Android). Why would they junk that investment and go to bed with Microsoft, especially knowing Microsoft is after their very market.

        The future is each manufacturer to have their own OS/hardware and they will be interoperating at Internet protocol levels. After all, this is why protocols exist.
  • Maybe...

    ... Amazon probably figured out that LoseDoze Fone is the one and only source of INNOVATION and INTELLECTUAL property that gives the users the features that the want - installing the internet and browsing the web and pointing and clicking and cutting and pasting and multitasking and all of the things so DIFFICULT if not outright IMPOSSIBLE to do with Ios or Android or BB.
  • Either way MS will be making a boatload of cash off the amazon phones.

    If they take over the android phone market the way they did the android tablet market it'll be really bad news for Sammy, unless of course sammy is building it or supplying the parts.
    Johnny Vegas
  • Looking for Number Three

    I have a hunch that neither ZDNet nor its readers are paying enough attention to what's happening with Tizen. Most of the activity there is happening in Asia (even though Intel is in the middle of it) so it's easy to overlook. But nobody should overlook anything that Samsung is playing with, and Samsung built the reference phone for Tizen. HTC is supposedly working on a device as well. Huawei has joined the Tizen Foundation and intends to build phones.

    Amazon is a big player in the US, but all it's going to take is one big design win in China to make Tizen bigger than Android. And except for a few passing mentions that treat it as just another flavor of desktop linux, ZDNet is ignoring it. Hello? The largest smartphone manufacturer in the world has rolled its own OS, Bada, into the effort and is helping to lead the charge. Any vendor who ignores this is foolish.
    Robert Hahn
  • Has he ever done anything good?

    Vista Ultimate, KIN and Windows Phone aren't exactly things I'd want on my resume.
  • Windows Phone?? Not A Chance!

    Amazon doesn't want to go the way of Nokia.