Amazon's first Kindle Fire had no native first-party maps apps integrated directly into the device, a potential disadvantage relative to its Android and iOS rivals. Earlier this summer, the company acquired 3-D mapping start-up UpNext, which has apps on numerous platforms, so you know maps are on its radar figuratively and literally.
Source: UpNext. Screen shot of UpNext HD Maps Tablets on Android.
That deal just happened, so it will take time to bear fruit. In the meantime, Amazon needs someone to fill that gap. Instead of going with Google's mapping service, Reuters reports that the e-tail giant has picked Nokia
When the iPhone first launched, Apple tapped the backend of Google Maps while creating the app frontend in-house. Only recently has Apple ditched Google Maps behind the scenes in favor of its own offering. Amazon has already created numerous other native first-party apps, so it could easily muster up an app if only it had the backend service. That's where Nokia could come in.
But don't expect this deal to translate too meaningfully for Nokia. At just 3% of sales, Navteq is relatively insignificant compared to its device and network businesses.
This deal makes plenty of sense for Amazon. Tap Nokia in the short term for the backend, build up the frontend app, and then substitute Nokia when a fully integrated in-house offering is ready for prime time.
Good move, Mr. Bezos.
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