Amazon Expands into Voice with IVONA Software Purchase
January 29, 2013
By Susan J. Campbell
, TMCnet Contributing Editor
Amazon – it is the Wal-Mart of the online world. While Wal-Mart may not be happy with this designation, the reality is that Amazon has just about everything and
can ship just about everywhere. And, if you have Amazon Prime, you can get it fast without ever having the leave the house. Soon, customers may also have the option to navigate by voice as the company just announced it is acquiring IVR system provider, IVONA Software.
The purchase appears to be a good fit. According to this Tech Crunch report, the company’s technology is already in use with the Kindle Fire to enable services such as voice commands, text-to-speech and the innovative “Explore by Touch.” This move could be Amazon’s way of boosting the features and functionality of the Kindle Fire to more readily compete with higher spec tablets.
Taking on IVONA could also provide opportunities for Amazon to go beyond tablets, adding voice services to a handset or smartphone. While the company hasn’t released any information regarding plans to enter this market, many have suspected that it’s been in the company’s long-term strategy for quite a while. Amazon continues to make vague references to future products, which is enough to get the creative mind racing.
Dave Limp, Amazon Kindle vice president noted that the text-to-speech technology from IVONA is nothing short of exceptional, leading the industry in natural voice quality, ease of use and accuracy. Limp believes the IVONA team shares Amazon’s passion for customer obsession and innovation, which creates the foundation for the creation of great products with quality voice solutions.
While Amazon has yet to stake a claim in the voice recognition space that rivals that of Apple’s (News - Alert) Siri, the company still plans to make this initiative a priority. Reading continues to be an important content focus and business proposition for the online giant, making the acquisition of IVONA an important move.
Plus, as Amazon continues to focus on international expansion, IVONA products are already available in 17 languages and 44 voices, with more in development. As the Kindle Fire has already been launched internationally, this language expansion is a natural next step.
For its part, IVONA provides a variety of voices, licenses and codecs to improve access to services and devices, such as websites, multimedia, announcing systems, electronic and mobile devices, applications and IT systems. And, with a focus on consistent innovation, the voice technology continues to improve to meet the changing needs of a dynamic marketplace.
Edited by Ashley Caputo