Amazon Acquires Siri-Like App for $26 Million

Amazon has reportedly acquired a Siri-like app for $26 million, which could possibly hint at the launch of an Amazon-made smartphone in the near future. 

A new report from TechCrunch says that Amazon acquired UK startup True Knowledge, which is responsible for creating Evi — a Siri-like voice app — for $26 million. 

True Knowledge licensed Nuance’s voice recognition technology and coupled it with its own engine to make Evi. Evi uses natural language text to understand what a user wants and means. It is even capable of learning about a user. 

Evi is an app compatible with any Android or iPhone smartphone. 

This isn’t Amazon’s first voice recognition purchase this year. In January, the e-tailer bought Polish-based voice technology company Ivona Software, which competes with Nuance in text-to-speech technology. 

What Amazon plans to do with both Evi and Ivona is not clear yet, but some suspect that a Siri-like competitor for an Amazon smartphone is in the works. Amazon has already stepped into the hardware ring with its Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets (as well as its own, custom-made version of the Android operating system for the Fire), so it’s very likely that the company could create a Siri competitor for its own handset in the future. 

In December 2012, it was reported that Foxconn had already manufactured a new handset model for Amazon (which is rumored to have a 4-5 inch display). Touch panel makers J Touch Corp. and Young Fast Optoelectronics Co. were rumored to be in on the new smartphone’s development as well.

According to a report by CENS.com, Amazon’s first smartphone will launch between the second and third quarter of 2013 and the e-tailer may ship as many as five million units for the year.

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