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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos speaks at a news conference in front of a graphic showing the rise in sales of Kindle books during the launch of Amazon's new tablets in New York, in this September 28, 2011.

SHANNON STAPLETON/Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Is Amazon building a smartphone to take on Apple? A new report has re-awakened speculation and set the tech world abuzz.

A story Friday from Bloomberg News relies on a pair of unidentified sources, who say that Amazon is working with the Chinese company Foxconn to produce the device. The story adds that the company is scooping up wireless technology patents in a bid to ward off copyright infringement issues.

The popularity of Amazon's Kindle Fire, a tablet e-reader that delivers content through the company's Prime service (not available in Canada), had earlier sparked rumours Amazon would dive into the smartphone market. But although the idea is not new its latest appearance caused a flurry of comment and speculation.

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"This Kindle Phone is all just a rumor at this point," noted Shaylin Clark at WebProNews. "Nevertheless it's a logical move for Amazon. The mammoth online retailer has a thriving content ecosystem already in place. That ecosystem has been a major contributing factor to the success of the Kindle Fire, and would give any Amazon smartphone a definite boost."

Others have been more critical.

Gizmodo pointed to the Bloomberg article, but in doing so also linked to an earlier column by Sam Biddle. In it, he argued strongly that Amazon should not make a Kindle phone, saying that the tablet's strengths – simplicity, acting as a conduit for the "huge, rich library of media" delivered via Amazon Prime and being "nice to hold" – are too basic to work as a phone.

"A Kindle phone would pretty much kick all of these lovely qualities down a gulch," he wrote. "A smartphone, by definition, needs to be way more than the Fire defines itself as."

And some pundits were already looking past such an announcement, even though Amazon has refused to comment.

Devindra Hardawar called it "not surprising" that Amazon would want to get into the smartphone market. But, as he wrote at VentureBeat, he didn't think they'd stop there and ultimately would start reselling wireless data services as well.

"Given just how well the Kindle Fire has done, as well as the clear need for a simple prepaid wireless service in the mobile world, an Amazon phone all of a sudden becomes a much more interesting prospect," he wrote.

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