US: Online retail giant, Amazon, has purchased 3D mapping startup, UpNext, according to a report published in GigaOM. UpNext currently has apps for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire. The app uses vector-based 3D images to recreate virtual buildings — this as opposed to the photo-based technology used by Google and Apple’s map offerings.
The UpNext 3D maps are available for more than 50 cities, with 23 cities sporting textured 3D with roadways. The vector-based textured maps resemble those seen in a videogame, like Grand Theft Auto. GTA might not be the image Amazon is going for with its acquisition, but the maps look impressive nonetheless.
Amazon’s UpNext acquisition is curious considering that the Kindle Fire doesn’t have GPS capabilities. The purchase could therefore point to interesting developments in Amazon’s hardware line-up. Perhaps the next Kindle Fire will sport GPS.
The price of the acquisition is undisclosed. GigaOM reported that investors will get a 5x return on the investment from 16 months ago. As part of the deal, UpNext will ship off to Seattle to lead the company’s core mapping effort.