Drivers will soon be able to listen to streaming on-demand audiobooks in their vehicles thanks to a new partnership between Aha by Harman, the provider of audio and infotainment products, and Podiobooks.com, which has a large collection of free serialized online audiobooks.
As a result of the deal, after downloading the Aha app for iPhone or Android, users can connect their smart phone to the in-vehicle entertainment system, pick one or more audiobooks from the hundreds of available titles, and select them as “presets”—similar to the way one traditionally selects preset radio stations. After that, users can listen to the audiobook, controlling the volume, track number, etc. via the steering column interface.
“The audiobook [listening] experience will be identical to the way you would listen to an AM/FM station,” said Chia-Lin Simmons, v- p of marketing and content for Aha, who noted that when a user exits her vehicle, she can continue listening to the audiobook on her smart phone.
Both the app and the service are free, though Simmons said the company plans to offer paid premium content at a later date. Aha is currently working with LibriVox and Podiobooks, which offers more than 600 audio titles in a wide variety of genres, but has plans to offer the service to other audio publishers. “We would love to work directly with [audio] publishers to bring their books into vehicles,” she said .”Our job is to let the publishers do what they do well…and facilitate a great listening experience in the car.”
In a statement, Evo Terra, president of Podiobooks.com, said: “By distributing our books via the Aha platform, we are finally able to give consumers instant, but safe, access to audiobooks from anywhere on the go, even right from the driver’s seat. This is the first step in freeing commuters from outdated audiobook CDs and moving into the next generation of book listening.”
Simmons also pointed to increased driver safety—as well as the company’s cloud-based technology—as making the new service unique. Drivers will no longer need compact discs, they won’t need to download titles in advance, and they won’t need to use devices that aren’t integrated into vehicles. “We’re not in the audiobooks space per se,” she added. “We’re in a technology enabling space for content providers. Our real value is that we have a deep relationship with the automotive partners.”
The service will be integrated into new vehicles from 10 major automakers. Currently, Aha has launched with Honda; Subaru and Acura are slated to follow.