Apple is not the only one building its own map app it seems, Amazon is looking to do the same for its Kindle tablets. It acquired a 3D mapping startup, UpNext, with the assumed purpose of building a map app for its tablet.
There's nothing official, but GigaOm says
it's a done deal and the four-person startup will be assimilated into Amazon. It was probably a cheap buy too, just a few millions of dollars, no big deal for Amazon.
The Kindle Fire doesn't come with any map app pre-installed and it doesn't even have a GPS. Users can either grab an app from the app store or use the online versions of Google Maps, Bing Maps and so on.
The Fire is intended more as a content device, it's for movie, music books and browsing, less so for apps or finding your way through a city.
However, map apps are crucial to a tablet, and if Amazon wants to continue to compete with Apple and Google, it is going to have to improve the device beyond the current focus on content.
That's because the iPad isn't lacking in the content department and, more importantly, Google seems to finally be pulling its weight in the area as well. The recently unveiled Nexus 7 puts content from Google Play front and center
, quite literally, on the home screen just like the Fire. Google may not have a catalog as large as Amazon's, but it's enough to compete.
It's hard to tell whether the Kindle Fire 2, landing this month, will sport a GPS, but it is a possibility. What's more, Amazon is said to be working on a 10-inch tablet and even a phone. Investing in a map app to compete with Google Maps and the new Apple app seems like the smart thing to do, especially since it's not breaking the bank.