World’s largest internet retailer Amazon has bought 3D mapping company UpNext for an undisclosed amount, reports Reuters.
The merger will help Amazon offer native mapping capabilities, so users won't have to download third-party apps or use browser-powered mapping services. The move from Amazon suggests its willingness to build presence in the mapping business which is ruled by Google and Apple.
New York-based UpNext offers interactive, detailed three-dimensional maps of cities and venues. The company was started by Raj Advani, Vik Advani, Robin Har and Danny Moon in 2007. It now carries five apps that provide map exploration and social features, in 3D. The map-centric applications are available on all iOS platforms, as well as Android tablets.
In 2011 UpNext secured $500,000 in funding from a private group of investors. UpNext team will head to Seattle to become the core of a new mapping initiative at Amazon, according to GigaOM. UpNext would also provide Amazon with its own set of point-to-point directions.
Some analysts believe the move is an attempt by Amazon to reboot its Amazon Kindle Fire tablet which already relies on information from the UpNext team; others believe the company may push further into the consumer electronics sector with help from the UpNext team, potentially towards an Amazon Kindle smartphone.
Apple made several mapping acquisitions over a period of three or four years before announcing Apple Maps for iOS 6. It’s clear that if Amazon is going to develop a full-fledged competitor and alternative to Google Maps it will need more coverage and horsepower than what UpNext currently provides or what it probably could build in the near term.
Amazon has been busy rolling out new features for its Fire tablet. Next month, it will reportedly unveil tools that will allow developers to add social features to games, and it recently announced the availability of the HBO GO video streaming app for the tablet.
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