Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Looks Like Amazon Will Enter the Mapping Wars With UpNext Purchase

Once a boring utility, mapping is now the scene of the latest turf war between tech giants, with Apple, Google and Microsoft, plus start-ups and open alternatives — and now Amazon — fighting to offer the most elaborate and complete global imagery and navigation tools.

Today, Amazon reportedly purchased 3-D mapping start-up UpNext, per GigaOM.

The deal makes sense, as we’d heard that Apple, Google and Amazon had all talked to the New York City-based start-up about an acquisition deal earlier this year. But those talks had broken off, and last we heard, UpNext had been raising funding instead.

And for Amazon, it’s as strong a sign as any that the company is building a KindlePhone. Currently, the Kindle Fire lacks GPS, though some apps try to work around the omission.

What’s cool about UpNext maps is how touchable and interactive they are. The company has a variety of free apps for Kindle Fire, Android, iPhone and iPad, and it’s also done things like partner with the NFL to make a mobile Super Bowl guide.

UpNext’s team of four had raised about $560,000 from investors including Lowercase Capital, David Cohen, David Tisch and Oleg Tscheltzoff. GigaOM doesn’t name a price, but reports the purchase will net investors “a 5x return.”

Neither Amazon or UpNext has replied to requests for confirmation and comment.

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— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”