Mapping technology has become a hotbed of competition lately, with Google, Apple, and Microsoft all making strategic changes in recent months. Now Amazon may be getting into the game, with GigaOm reporting that the company has acquired a mapping startup called UpNext. The company, which specializes in 3D mapping, represents a foray into an unexplored space for the retailer-turned-hardware provider, whose Kindle Fire current relies on third-party developers for any mapping solutions.
With Google announcing the Nexus 7 last week, Amazon is likely feeling pressure to deliver a more full-featured product. There's also the continuing rumors that Amazon will release its own branded phone at some point (the CEO of Skyhook, whose services Amazon uses in the Fire, recently hinted that his company would be part of a "major" new phone launch this year). UpNext currently offers 3D map apps for both Android and iOS; whether the acquisition will affect the availability of said applications remains to be seen.