Unnamed sources have told TechCrunch that British startup Evi Technologies Ltd. has been sold to Amazon for $26 million USD. This rumor has ignited Kindle phone rumors once again, as when combined with Amazon's recent acquisition of voice recognition company Ivona, it appears as though Amazon is growing closer to a solid smartphone release.
Founded in August 2005, Evi Technologies (Evi Tech) reportedly changed its name from True Knowledge in June 2012, and is the studio responsible for the Siri-like "Evi" app for iOS and Android launched in January 2012. It's based on the True Knowledge Internet answer engine and Nuance’s voice recognition technology, and allows users to search for information in a conversation-like manner using their native spoken language.
"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," the company states. "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."
In early 2012, Apple actually threatened to remove Evi from the App Store due to its similarities with Siri. However instead of yanking the app out of the App Store, Apple reportedly worked with the developer to rip out those insulting similarities.
According to TechCrunch, the UK's Companies House, an executive agency of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, now shows that Amazon's UK legal representative has replaced all of the directors from Evi Tech. Even more, all loans have been paid off, a small loss of £19,000 has been recognized, and the new Evi Tech Company Secretary, Mitra Secretaries Ltd., is the corporate secretary for Amazon UK.
The report claims that all of this information has been confirmed in an annual report supplied by Octopus Ventures which is one of Evi Tech's financial backers. "The annual reports of all Octopus Ventuers’ funds all refer to the disposing of their shares in Evi Technologies," the site adds.
Until Amazon announces an actual acquisition, or at least steps forward with an official statement, everything here is speculation and rumor… much like the Kindle phone itself. Even if Amazon does purchase the company, it doesn't mean Amazon is producing a smartphone. If anything, it's Amazon's way of securing a Siri-like service for its Kindle Fire tablets.
And maybe a smartphone.