updated 07:10 pm EDT, Mon July 2, 2012
Acquisition may point to Kindle Fire refresh, smartphone
Amazon has reportedly closed a deal to acquire 3D mapping startup UpNext. Sources close to the deal tell GigaOm that the UpNext team will be moving to Seattle in order to integrate with Amazon's mapping effort. The move is being taken by some as an indication that the Internet retail giant is planning a more serious foray into the consumer electronics sector.
Until the deal, UpNext was a four-person squad providing mapping applications for iOS, Android, and Amazon's Kindle Fire. The company's software covers 50 cities nationwide, with enhanced details for 23 of those cities. UpNext also partnered with the NFL to develop Super Bowl guides including 3D stadium maps and maps of the surrounding area. UpNext's maps also provide point-to-point directions.
Last year, the company secured $500,000 in funding from private investors. That figure is important because, even though the price of the acquisition is unknown, those investors are said to have gotten a five-fold return on investment out of Amazon's purchase.
Neither Amazon nor UpNext has commented on the reported acquisition. For Amazon, the move would seem to signal that the company is preparing to significantly expand its offerings in the consumer electronics sector. Amazon's Kindle Fire can only download maps over a Wi-Fi connection, but the retailer is thought to be working secretly on a refresh of the Kindle Fire and perhaps even a smartphone.