By Alexandra Burlacu | Apr 21, 2013 10:54 AM EDT
Amazon reportedly acquired Siri-like startup Evi Technologies for $26 million and rumors of an upcoming Kindle smartphone are making rounds once again.
Amazon also recently acquired voice recognition company Ivona, and news of that acquisition combined with the Evi Technologies purchase now sparks even more speculation about an imminent Amazon smartphone release.
TechCrunch learned from unnamed sources that Amazon just acquired British startup Evi Technologies Ltd. in a $26 million deal. The startup made its debut back in 2005 as True Knowledge, but changed its name to Evi Technologies (Evi Tech) in June 2012. Evi Tech is the studio behind the Siri-like "Evi" app for iOS and Android, launched in January 2012. Based on the True Knowledge Internet answer engine and Nuance's voice recognition technology, Evi allows users to search for information in their native spoken language, in a conversation-like manner, much like Siri operates.
"The True Knowledge internet answer engine was launched in 2007 to excellent response from users who were not only able to access the wealth of information Evi could provide, but were able to contribute directly to the ever growing database of facts," explains the startup company. "The availability of the True Knowledge API resulted in numerous apps and services being powered by the True Knowledge engine. In January 2010 we logged one million users in a single month, which had grown to five million unique users in the month of November."
Evi is so similar to Siri that Apple even threatened to remove it from the App Store back in early 2012. Instead of kicking the app out of the App Store, however, Apple reportedly collaborated with the developer to remove the blatant similarities.
The UK's Companies House, an executive agency of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, currently shows that Amazon's UK legal representative replaced all of Evi Tech's directors, TechCrunch reports. The new Evi Tech Company Secretary, Miltra Secretaries Ltd., is now the corporate secretary for Amazon UK. The startup also paid off its loans and recognized a small loss of £19,000.
According to TechCrunch, Octopus Ventures, one of Evi Tech's financial backers, confirmed all of this information in an annual report. All annual reports of Octopus Ventures funds reportedly refer to "the disposing of their shares in Evi Technologies," adds the publication.
Keep in mind, however, that Amazon did not make anything official yet, so the acquisition and the rumored Kindle smartphone are just rumors for now. Even if Amazon did purchase the Siri-like startup, it still doesn't mean that it's producing a smartphone. The Siri-like service could well be for Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets.
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