News that online retailer Amazon is in the process of buying a voice operation and virtual concierge application on a par with Apple's Siri further fuels speculation that Amazon is set to launch its own smartphone.
According to TechCrunch, Amazon is paying $26 million for the company behind the Evi app, UK-based True Knowledge, and plans to merge its functionality with Ivona, a voice recognition company it acquired in January.
Amazon already has its own range of tablets and e-readers, which would become even more attractive devices if they responded to voice commands, but as such virtual concierge services are at their best when paired with truely mobile devices -- i.e. smartphones -- the news will just be seen as further proof that the technology and commerce company is poised to enter the smartphone market.
Rumors of an upcoming Amazon phone have been circling since November 2012 when Foxconn announced that it had won the contract to manufacture the device and that it would be ready for public consumption by mid 2013.
In March, Digitimes claimed that the handset had been delayed while its specifications were tweaked. Originally the device was designed with a 4.3-inch screen but due to the growing popularity of bigger phones, Amazon had decided to go with a bigger 4.7-inch touch screen instead.
The same report stated that the updated phone would be on the market by July. If such a device does exist then it is expected to run Amazon's own operating system -- essentially a ‘forked' version of Android -- and would be sold at cost or even at a small loss in order to encourage owners to buy Amazon-curated and -provided multimedia content such as videos, feature films, albums and e-books.