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January 25, 2013

Amazon Acquires Text-to-Speech Company Ivona Software is all talk these days — the e-retail giant has acquired leading text-to-speech technology company Ivona Software for an undisclosed sum.

The purchase is a clear bid by Amazon to pick up some talent to continue its push into the tablet market.

The companies have worked together in the past — Kindle Fire tablets have featured Ivona’s text-to-speech, voice guide and explore-by-touch technology.

“For more than 10 years, the Ivona team has been focused on creating innovative text-to-speech technologies,” said CEO and co-founder of Ivona Lukasz Osowski in a statement. “We are all thrilled that Amazon is supporting our growth so that we can continue to innovate and deliver exceptional voice and language support for our customers.”

Ivona also delivers text-to-speech products and services to thousands of developers, businesses and customers globally. It offers voice and language portfolios with 44 voices in 17 languages and has more in development.

“Ivona’s exceptional text-to-speech technology leads the industry in natural voice quality, accuracy and ease of use,” said Amazon Kindle vice-president Dave Limp in a press release. “Ivona is already instrumental in helping us deliver excellent accessibility features on Kindle Fire, including text-to-speech, voice guide and explore by touch.

“The Ivona team shares our passion for innovation and customer obsession, and we look forward to building great products to deliver world-class voice solutions to customers around the world.”

Amazon has pitted itself firmly against Apple in recent months, touting its Kindle Fire HD over the iPad Mini, saying it offers “much more for much less.”

The iPad Mini sells for $329 while the Kindle Fire HD retails for $199.

A number of companies — Amazon, Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and Barnes & Noble to name a few — are going head-to-head in a bid to dominate the lucrative tablet market.

Amazon has kept its tablet prices low to entice consumers away from pricier options like the iPad, Microsoft’s Surface or Samsung’s Galaxy Note. And, with the Ivona purchase, Amazon will have the ability to take on its rivals’ voice recognition systems as well: Apple’s Siri, Samsung’s S Voice, Google Actions and Microsoft’s TellMe.

Enhanced tablets are surely on the way. Perhaps an Amazon Smartphone is around the bend.