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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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik