* Ivona technology already used in Kindle Fire
* Acquisition spurs speculation of Siri-like services
* Ivona deal may help Amazon expand Kindle reader base
(Adds bullets, updates Amazon shares)
By Alistair Barr
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 24 Amazon.com Inc
said on Thursday it acquired text-to-speech technology company
Ivona Software, a sign that the world's largest Internet
retailer may be looking to develop more services similar to
Apple Inc's Siri voice-based search product.
An Amazon spokeswoman declined to say how much the company
paid for Ivona.
Ivona's technology already supports several features on
Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet computers, such as text-to-speech,
said Dave Limp, who oversees the Kindle business.
"We look forward to building great products to deliver
world-class voice solutions to customers around the world," Limp
said in a statement.
Apple's Siri service on its iPhone smartphones allows users
to ask questions and it delivers answers, or suggests possible
actions. Ivona's text-to-speech technology on Amazon's Kindle
Fire HD tablets reads Kindle e-books aloud to users.
"The Ivona acquisition could provide some technology on the
Kindle to compete with Siri, although I would argue that Siri
has not been all that was expected of it so far," said Kerry
Rice, an analyst at Needham & Co.
Ivona could also help Amazon expand its e-book market to
more people with disabilities, such as the blind, Rice added.
Ivona already works with organizations that support visually
impaired people, including the Royal National Institute of Blind
Amazon shares rose 2.2 percent to $274.15 in afternoon
trading on Thursday and hit a record $276.65 in earlier action.
(Reporting By Alistair Barr; editing by Gunna Dickson; Editing
by Nick Zieminski)