Amazon, which began shipping a tablet computer this week, may be eyeing the smartphone market, Relaxnews reports. Citigroup said in a research note published on Thursday that it believes the Seattle-based online retail giant plans to launch a smartphone next year.

“Based on our supply chain channel checks in Asia led by Kevin Chang, Citi’s Taipei-based hardware research analyst, we believe an Amazon Smartphone will be launched in 4Q12,” Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney said.

“We believe (Foxconn) is now jointly developing the phone with Amazon,” Mahaney said, and it will be manufactured by Hon Hai’s TMS business group, which makes Amazon’s Kindle electronic book reader and Kindle Fire tablet…

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staff and wire services reports