Amazon acquires text-to-speech startup, Siri challenger?

Without a lot of hype and fanfare, Amazon has snatched up a new company focused on text-to-speech technology.

This is leading some to speculate that Amazon may be working on its own version of Siri, or at least radically improving the Kindle’s ability to read books aloud.

As anyone with a Kindle already knows, the current text-to-speech software in Amazon’s quiver is rather, well, some have described it as creepy.

The company that has been merged into Amazon is called Yap, and it was so quietly done that no one even noticed it until recently. The buyout happened in September.

Whether or not Amazon is planning to use its new technology to make a direct competitor to Siri is anyone’s guess. But what Siri has done by all measures is to prove the value of automated text-speech systems.

For Amazon, unique opportunities offered by a robust text-to-speech platform include being able to suggest products on, or digital offerings, without users needing to browse or read through recommendations, as well as bringing the technology to all Kindle-compatible devices, not just Amazon’s own proprietary hardware.

There are any number of things Amazon could be thinking of with a purchase like this, but what is also intriguing is how quiet it was about the deal. It’s like Amazon didn’t want anyone to realize that the purchase took place.

Does that mean it has something special and secret up its sleeve? Hopefully we’ll see.