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Audible, Apple, and Amazon

Posted by titusferguson on February 1, 2008

It was announced yesterday that Amazon is going to acquire Audible.com for $300 million.

I wonder how this will effect the relationship between Audible and iTunes. They have always had a strong relationship,  and Audible purchases are synced seamlessly into iTunes and onto iPods.

Since Apple and Amazon are competitors in the music market, I don’t see how they will want to cooperate the spoken book market. TUAW thinks that there must have been provisions made for Apple in the deal. I’m not so sure Amazon would want to do that. I think that Amazon wants to move into the web based  music store market. Now they have DRM free, cheaper-than-iTunes, music, as well as audiobooks, they could really threaten Apple’s dominance. Their plan might be to cut off Apple’s access to all their audiobook subscribers and force them into their service.

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One Response to “Audible, Apple, and Amazon”

  1. Alderete said

    I think it’s pretty unlikely that things will change in the short- or medium-term. Access rights to audiobook content is crazy, with geographic restrictions even for Internet downloads, etc. There’s a lot of contracts in place already, and making changes is hard. And I think DRM is a requirement in a lot of them, and the audiobook publishers are not the same as the music labels, it’s not clear they’re ready to give up DRM.

    And for the long term, the iTunes Store is almost certainly the biggest “customer” of Audible, by being a reseller of Audible products. Amazon’s more likely to compete heavily on the music side of the house, where they already have some interesting advantages, where Apple and Amazon are strictly competitors, and where the money is a lot more interesting. That makes more sense than to compete on audiobooks, where hurting Apple’s sales can only reduce their own bottom line.

    The difference is, in music, both Apple and Amazon are selling other people’s products, whereas in audiobooks, both Apple and Amazon are selling Audible’s, now Amazon’s, products. Amazon cutting off Apple’s access to Audible content makes zero business sense.

    Indeed, both companies understand the value of making the customer experience better; If anything, I would bet that the two would work together to make the experience even more seamless, by directly supporting Audible’s subscription programs, etc., in iTunes.

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