November 10, 2011
Amazon Buys Voice-to-Text Company Yap: Prepping for a Run at iOS's Siri?
While the world awaits Amazon's new Kindle Fire and its burgeoning app market and dedicated cloud-based storage facilities with breathless anticipation, there is evidence that the world's largest online retailer may be ready to take on the computer company with the fruit logo.
Amazon has reportedly purchased a North Carolina-based company called Yap (News - Alert) (the news was originally confirmed by All Things D and that company's only product is a mobile app that transcribes voice mails to text so you can read them on your smartphone or tablet, according to Business Insider. Yap, which was founded in 2006 by former IBM (News - Alert) voice recognition engineer Igor Jablakov, has also dabbled with more advanced concepts in voice recognition.
While Apple touts Siri, the new voice-enabled virtual assistant available on new iPhone (News - Alert) 4S handsets, it seems possible that Amazon is in the process of developing a voice-based personal assistant of its own to work on the company's soon-to-be debuted tablet device, the Kindle Fire. The evidence? Business Insider notes that an SEC filing made two months ago shows that Yap was merged into an entity called Dion Acquisition Sub, a group which has the same address as Amazon's headquarters.
The rumors are furthered by the fact that Yap voice mail, which was being used by other entities – Sprint (News - Alert) being one – has been suddenly discontinued, perhaps in preparation for becoming Amazon property, says All Things D.
According to Digital Trends, “The easiest assumption to make right off that bat is that this means a future version of the Kindle Fire will include virtual assistant technology.” (Obviously it's too late to get it onto the first generation Kindle Fire, since the tablet is set to be available for sale on November 15). But Digital Trends notes that this also begs the question: does this mean that Amazon is gearing up to introduce a full line of personal digital devices such as smartphones and alternate versions of the Kindle Fire?
Time will tell.
Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell