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Apple’s use of the Siri voice assistant in the iPhone 4S has been one of the most-talked about features on the new device, but Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) is not the only company interested in voice-powered services: it turns out that Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) has made its own acquisition in this area, in the form of Yap.
The buy, first spotted by The Atlantic in an SEC filing, shows the acquisition was completed in September, although neither company made an announcement of the deal, and the financial terms have not been disclosed.
Nor is it clear what Amazon intends to do with Yap. As my colleague, our web developer Jamie Poitra pointed out to me, voice recognition is only one part of the story for Siri. The really interesting and unique bit is the software that sits behind that, which processes the vocal commands and turns them into something that a computer can understand and act on (the “personal assistant” element of Siri).
Yap‘s primary product appeared to be Yap Voicemail, which looks like it worked with all four major carriers and turned voicemail into texts, and let users create text messages through speaking. We write “appeared” because in fact the product was discontinued as of October 20, according to the site.
You can see the opportunities of adding in more voice commands into any wireless product, Amazon’s Kindle line included, especially since its rivals are already doing quite a lot already in this space: in addition to Siri on the iPhone, Samsung offers a voice command service bundled into its Android devices, powered by Vlingo. That service is also available as a download in the Market for other Android devices, too.
One last footnote that seems like too good of a coincidence not to point out. Yap was started by two brothers, Igor and Victor Jablokov. The meaning of that last name in Russian? Apples.