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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) have already declared a digital mapping battle against each other, and now Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is ready to enter the contentious fray. The retailer has agreed to buy 3D mapping startup UpNext to mark its move into the new territory, according to GigaOM.
At the moment, accessing maps on the Kindle Fire tablet requires users to download third-party Android apps or access online mapping services through the browser. However, the UpNext acquisition is likely to help Amazon offer native mapping capabilities and maybe even a smartphone in the future.
Founded in 2007, UpNext offers interactive, detailed three-dimensional maps and already has apps for the iPad, iPhone, and Android devices. Users can “drop down” into streets and tap objects to bring up more information, directions, or different viewpoints. It has also partnered with the NFL to develop Super Bowl guides that include 3D maps of the stadium and the surrounding area.
Founders Raj Advani, Vik Advani, Robin Har, and Danny Moon, who had raised $500,000 in investment last year, are moving the New York-based company to Seattle. The price of the acquisition was not disclosed, but investors from last year are reportedly set to get a five-fold return.
Last month, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) announced it was replacing Google Maps in its mobile devices with its own in-house map service. With search and navigation turning increasingly valuable to local advertising, maps have become an area of intense competition.
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