Amazon Has Acquired Yap, the Closest Thing to a Siri Clone It Can Find

There are a lot of similarities between Amazon and Apple. The secrecy, the dedication to the consumer, the focus on devices and digital media, and now this: Siri.

Amazon has not returned calls or emails seeking comment, but we have confirmed independently that Charlotte, N.C.-based Yap has been acquired by Amazon.

Reports of the acquisition surfaced earlier today after CLT, a Charlotte-based blog, connected a couple of obscure dots. First, it tracked down an SEC filing that shows that as of Sept. 8, Yap was acquired by Yarmuth Dion. Then, it discovered that Yarmouth Dion has the same mailing address as Amazon’s Seattle headquarters.

Media reports immediately jumped to the conclusion that Amazon was interested in the company’s speech recognition technology so it could compete with Siri, the voice-controlled assistant found on Apple’s newest iPhone.

And, from what we dug up, that sounds about right.

Most recently, Yap’s servers were being used by Sprint and others to convert voicemails to text. It was being shipped on a majority of Sprint’s Android handsets. Yap also had an iPhone app.

On Oct. 20, Yap voicemail was discontinued.

But the company, founded by brothers Igor and Victor Jablokov, started out in a different direction. Four years ago, the company was eager to build technology that allowed people to interact with Web services using speech recognition. The company, which raised about $10 million, presented at the TechCrunch40 event in 2007.

At the time, the idea was a little far-fetched.

Wireless networks weren’t very fast, not many people owned smartphones and distribution was tough because of the lack of app stores. With many of those problems resolved, we heard the 50-employee company was beginning to return to its roots. Now, it works for Amazon.

We can hear it now:

— “Yap, what are this season’s most popular boots?”

— “Yap, buy me the first Harry Potter novel.”

— “Yap, what’s the new hit song from Justin Bieber?”

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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