Amazon.com Inc reportedly agreed on Monday to buy mapping startup UpNext, the latest sign of increased competition between the world's largest Internet retailer and tech rivals such as Google Inc and Apple Inc.
GigaOM reported that UpNext Founders Raj Advani, Vik Advani, Robin Har and Danny Moon will move from New York to Seattle, where Amazon is based, to lead the e-commerce company's mapping efforts.
The technology news service did not report a purchase price, but said UpNext backers, including Chris Sacca's Lowercase Capital, will get a five-fold return on their investment, made about 16 months ago.
An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment and UpNext's Moon did not respond to a phone message left seeking comment on Monday afternoon.
Maps have become an area of intense competition among some of the largest technology companies in recent months. Apple is replacing Google Maps, a pre-loaded app so far on the iPhone and iPad, with its own in-house map service, delivering a blow to Google, which gets about half its map traffic from Apple devices.
Amazon may be buying UpNext to help its push into mobile devices, including a possible smartphone, Aaron Kessler, an Internet analyst at Raymond James, said on Monday.
GigaOM said the UpNext acquisition potentially points to a "more robust" Kindle Fire tablet computer from Amazon that could include native mapping capabilities.
The current Kindle Fire tablet does not have a global positioning system receiver and users have to download third-party Android mapping apps or access online mapping services through Amazon's Silk Internet browser, GigaOM said.
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012
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