Amazon has reportedly stepped into unknown territory and purchased UpNext, a 3D mapping startup.
The online retailer will place UpNext and its team of four in Seattle at the head of Amazon's mapping efforts, according to a report, which wonders whether Amazon could be readying a map app for the Kindle Fire or even a smartphone.
UpNext, based in New York, has built a company with apps on the iPhone, iPad and Android. The apps cover 50 cities across the US and include enhanced details of 23 of them.
The company has also previously partnered with the NFL to create guides for the Super Bowl.
GigaOM broke the news of the acquisition Monday, and said the amount Amazon paid has not been revealed.
Prior to the reported acquisition, UpNext had mostly been financing its efforts on its own, but that changed last March when it raised US$500,000 from investments. GigaOM reports that investors may be getting a return five times what they put in.
Requests for comment from UpNext and Amazon were not returned.
This is the latest in a long string of news dealing with mobile device makers and their mapping technology.
First, Google announced some changes to its service, Google Maps, in early June, which was followed not long after by Apple.
The Cupertino company used its Worldwide Developers Conference to announce that it was leaving Google Maps behind to launch its own map app complete with 3D images. And in late June, Microsoft made a map announcement of its own, saying it was going to adopt Nokia's map service for its Windows Phone lineup.
Los Angeles Times