Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has purchased the mapping start-up UpNext which provides interactive 3D maps. Presently 50 cities nationwide are covered, with enhanced details available for 23 cities. UpNext already has apps for iPad, iPhone and Android devices which can be used to virtually drop down onto city streets and obtain more information about buildings in the vicinity as well as to look at the area from different views. The financial details of the deal were not disclosed by either party but UpNext founders reportedly earned a 5x return on the investment they made 16 months ago. 
Amazon previously didn’t have a mapping service of its own. Users were required to download third party Android apps or access online mapping services through a browser. While the Kindle Fire tablet doesn’t have a GPS radio until now, the acquisition points to a more robust Kindle version in the future.
There is also speculation that the move is an indication of Amazon’s intent to develop a smartphone in the future. Competitor Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) recently announced replacement of Google Maps with its own in-house mapping service.((Report: Amazon purchases map startup UpNext))
Mapping technology is attractive to marketers who can deliver coupons or other targeted advertising to users based on their location and search history. Mobile ads associated with maps or locations are estimated to account for about 25% of the roughly $2.5 billion spent on mobile ads in 2012, according to Opus Research. This could potentially result in a new revenue stream for Amazon through upcoming versions of Kindle devices. And if the smartphone eventually materializes it would create a revenue stream of its own. 
We currently have a $222 Trefis price estimate for Amazon which stands near its market price.Notes: