These last few years, Amazon has focused on audio innovation by increasing its investments and improvements on its most popular platforms and developing its partnerships, especially in connected mobility.
Amazon enriches Audible
We can’t talk about Amazon and audio without mentioning Audible, the world’s leading audio book platform. Founded in 1995, the audiobook platform was bought by Amazon in 2008 for $300 million. Today, it features nearly 600,000 audiobooks. To access the catalog, listeners can purchase one or several audiobooks or choose to subscribe monthly, and have a limited credit that allows listening to any title in the catalog.
With the arrival of the pandemic, the various periods of containment, and the explosion of audio listening around the world, Amazon has multiplied its investments, and Audible was not ignored, whether in sound quality or in the original production of audio books and podcasts. One of the significant areas of improvement for Audible in 2021 has been sound quality, particularly through spatial sound, also known as “binaural sound”, a technology that offers a unique immersion to listeners, thanks to a sound that delivers a quasi-cinematic experience.
These investments make sense because the imaginative dimension of audio is convincing more and more listeners who are tired of conventional reading to opt for an audible reading format. As far as original production is concerned, Amazon has invested in the last two years in no less than 12 recording studios, making Audible a production factory for audio content in addition to a listening platform.
Amazon expands its connected mobility services
On January 5, 2022, Amazon announced the signing of a partnership with Stellantis, the automotive group born from the merger between the PSA Group and Fiat Chrysler, during the last edition of CES Las Vegas. As of 2024, Stellantis vehicles will integrate Amazon’s technology in the form of “smart cockpits”. The goal of this partnership, according to Andy Jassy – CEO of Amazon, is to “transform the automotive industry and reinvent the in-vehicle experience, with the help of Amazon’s expertise in cloud, AI and machine learning.” Amazon’s software-powered smart cockpit will include AI-enhanced apps for entertainment, voice assistance with Alexa, navigation and more.
According to Amazon and Stellantis, these smart vehicles will be able to interact with passengers and recommend media content and locations. The alliance with Stellantis is a big challenge for Amazon as well as a major strategic choice, knowing that Google signed a similar project with Ford a year ago to implement its Android technology in the American brand’s cars. The announcement of this partnership confirms Amazon’s will to establish itself in all the different sectors of the smart audio market.
Amazon Music takes its place among the giants of music streaming
Amazon Music has become one of the best music streaming services and has joined the podium of the best platforms alongside the biggest players in the market, such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Deezer. The platform’s library includes over 60 million tracks, mainly composed of music and podcasts. In 2021, Amazon began offering podcasts in the Amazon Music app. In the last two years, it has invested more in podcast production and monetization, acquiring Wondery (a US podcast network) and Art19 (a US hosting and monetization company).
On the technological side, Amazon Music has, among other things, expanded its mobile interface with a display dedicated to the car. The new car mode is a simplified version of the Amazon Music interface. The buttons are larger, with an enlarged playlist and album suggestions and easier access to Alexa. Like Spotify, Amazon Music can be set to switch to “car mode” as soon as it recognizes that the phone is connecting to the Bluetooth of the user’s vehicle.
Amazon’s ambition to establish itself in digital audio through investments, acquisitions, and technological innovations is undeniable. Overall, the group’s acceleration strategy is proving to be very lucrative for all of its offerings, as Amazon has made a $33 billion profit in 2021, and expects to grow by 3-8% in 2022.