Some CEOs like to shout their acquisitions from the rooftops. And then there’s Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who would prefer that you didn’t know his company just bought a startup called Yap.
Here’s how cloak-and-dagger it got: Yap technically merged with a subsidiary called Dion Acquisition in September, according to SEC filings. Only now did an eagle-eyed tech blogger based in Yap’s hometown, Charlotte, N.C., notice that the address listed for the post-merger company was an Amazon building in Seattle.
Why all the secrecy? Well, it could have something to do with Amazon’s need for voice recognition technology to compete with Apple’s Siri. Yap had an Android and iOS app called Yap Voicemail, which was still in private beta (and has now been mysteriously discontinued); it transcribed your phone calls for you. Yap’s founders suggested their intellectual property went way beyond that, and that it was a potential competitor to the do-it-all voice recognition app Vlingo.
If the Kindle range of tablets — led by the Android-based Kindle Fire — is going to compete with the iPad in the long term, then having some strong competition to Siri is a must. Siri is currently baked into the iPhone 4S, but plenty of users have been able to get her up and running on an iPad 2, and there seems little doubt that Apple will be officially incorporating her into the iPad 3 in 2012.
With strong voice recognition, Amazon could push the Kindle as a supremely easy device for accessing your media hands-free. Finding songs, playing and pausing movies, even turning pages in a book (or buying a new one) could all be done via voice. Indeed, given the Kindle’s much-touted video mirroring capability, this could be a back door into making the Kindle a voice-based remote control for your TV.
Would you consider buying a Kindle with Siri-like functionality? Let us know in the comments.