A few months back, Amazon acquired 3D-mapping startup UpNext, signaling its plans to enter mapping territory, and now Amazon is encouraging those developing apps for its new Kindle Fire devices to move away from Google Maps and go full on Amazon.
When Amazon announced the Kindle Fire HD, it also made the Amazon Maps API available to developers.
"The Amazon Maps API makes it easy for you to integrate mapping functionality into apps that run on the all-new Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD," says Amazon in a blog post. "These new devices will also support location-based services through the android.location API."
"The Amazon Maps API provides a simple migration path for developers who are already using the native Google Maps API on Android," Amazon adds.
With Amazon's Maps API, developers can embed an interactive map view in their apps for customers to pan and zoom. They can optionally display users' location and switch between standard maps and satellite view. They can also display locations of businesses, landmarks and other points of interest with customized markers and pins.
The API is currently in beta.
Here's an UpNext Maps demo on an iPhone:
Amazon and Google are establishing themselves as direct competitors more and more, and this is just the latest move in the competitive chess game. It also follows a report from The New York Times indicating that more people are beginning product searches on Amazon and less are beginning them on Google.
In other words, Amazon is taking searches away from Google. What kind of effect will the Maps API move have on Amazon device users? That remains to be seen, but it can't be good for Google, aside from helping the company's argument against those calling it a monopoly.
This is just in the search realm, and is not even taking into consideration other areas where these two companies compete, like web services and even browsers now (Amazon's Silk browser got an upgrade with the new Kindle Fire devices).
Obviously Amazon and Google are also both competing with Apple. Apple, as you probably know, recently dropped Google Maps from iOS devices, in favor of its own Maps offering, and it appears that even that is having a more widespread effect than originally thought. TechCrunch is reporting today that Russian Google competitor Yandex is now powering Apple's iOS 6 mapping service in Russia, with a bigger deal apparently on the horizon for Yandex to become the default search on the mobile version of Apple's Safari browser.
Something else to think about - Apple and Facebook seem to be cozying up a bit lately, and Facebook has admitted plans to enter the search game, while at the same time dismissing the idea of offering its own hardware. Just saying.