Audible.com: “The vehicle will be a first class connected Internet device”

Audible.com: “The vehicle will be a first class connected Internet device”

Audible.com is the Internet’s leading provider of premium digital spoken audio information and entertainment.

Guy Story joined Audible in 1996 as VP technology and led the architecture and development of Audible’s innovative mobile audio and Internet commerce technologies. Prior to joining Audible, Guy worked in research and development for over 10 years at AT&T Bell Laboratories and Lucent Technologies, where his areas of focus included networked delivery of multimedia documents and interactive television. Today at Audible Guy is focused on opportunities in wireless, automotive, in-home entertainment, and social media.

What does Audible do?

Audible is the leading provider of downloadable premium spoken audio entertainment and information, providing digital audio editions of books, newspapers, and magazines, original programming, and TV and radio subscriptions. Our customers listen on portable digital media players (such as the Apple iPod™), smartphones, in-home and in-car entertainment systems, and computer desktops. We are also a leading producer of audiobooks, and we are the exclusive provider of audiobooks to the Apple iTunes Store.

How do you differentiate your offerings from your competitors?

We offer the largest selection of spoken word content of anyone, and we offer the lowest prices through our AudibleListener™ membership program. An AudibleListener member receives everyday discounts on audiobook purchases, exclusive access to sales and promotions, and a free subscription to our daily audio digest of either the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.
We also provide technology that insures a superior listening experience on all devices and systems. For example, AudibleReady™ players always remember your last listening place, so you can return and continue listening at any time.
We continue to expand our own spoken word content creation program, bringing more new and classic books to the audio format. For example, Audible Modern Vanguard offers works by 20th century literary innovators like Kurt Vonnegut, Philip Roth, and Betty Friedan. Many of these titles have never before been available in audio format. And our original science fiction and fantasy audio imprint, Audible Frontiers, is backed by a series of exclusive production agreements with today’s most popular writers and seeks to expand greatly the number of audiobooks available to science fiction and fantasy fans. We are dedicated to providing the broadest selection of the best spoken word content to our customers, anytime, anywhere.

What partnerships are you currently forging?

In addition to our steadily growing list of content provider partners, now totaling more than 1,000, Audible is partnering with a range of rights holders to bring unique and compelling written works to the audio format. As an example, we recently released four of Woody Allen’s books, narrated by Woody himself, produced by Audible and available only from audible.com and the Apple iTunes Store. His writing has never been available in audio before.

With the goal of enabling customers to listen to the best spoken audio, with a superior user experience, and on the broadest range of options, Audible continues to add to its technology partnerships, ranging from portable device manufacturers to mobile device manufacturers to in-home and in-vehicle systems and product developers.

Which trends will impact the industry the most in the coming years and why?

We believe there is no doubt that, eventually, the vehicle will be a first class connected Internet device, with all that implies: application-agnostic wireless data connectivity and an embedded platform that supports third-party applications and ongoing innovation. And synergy with cloud-based services will only really come to fruition when the vehicle is truly a connected device.

Of course, security and reliability cannot be compromised, and we are confident that all these needs can be met. The technologies exist today, so our biggest collective challenge is how to get there as soon as possible.

You are an integral part of our upcoming Content & Apps for Automotive USA 2010. What key topics are you looking to discuss at the show?

We are interested in learning about the anticipated timeline for the penetration of embedded open platforms in the vehicle, and also what are the barriers to enabling wireless data connectivity that’s not dedicated to a single application or service. The most common place where our customers listen to Audible content is in the car, and we can offer greater value to these customers once we have access to elegant and flexible content delivery to, and playback in, the vehicle.
We are also interested in exploring how to mitigate the mismatch in the lengths of the product lifecycles in the automotive industry as compared with Internet-related applications and services. In the context of all the rapid changes happening around us, it’s important to be able to deploy features, get customer feedback, and improve them in a relatively timely, ongoing cycle.

Which apps/capabilities/cars are on your current wish list?

My number one wish-list item, by far, doesn’t exist yet. It’s an ability to have my audiobooks, music, movies, and games delivered elegantly and wirelessly into my car’s embedded system, available for listening in the front seats and listening/viewing in the rear seats, and personalized to the driver and other occupants. That would be fantastic.


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