There’s a fascinating new rumor about Amazon’s plans for the Kindle. One of the top technology sites argues that now that Amazon has brought their ebook-reading technology to the world of tablets and smartphones, “The car is the logical next step, considering how much time people spend their automobiles on their daily commutes and simply running errand.” Writing for the blog GigaOm Kevin Fitchard makes the point that it’s not just readers who would be excited about the technology. In the competitive world of car-selling, “The automakers would fall all over themselves lining up to support it!”
It’s not as far-fetched as it seems. Less than two months ago, Amazon integrated its music-playing capability into the dashboards on new Ford cars. It’s the same “Amazon Cloud Player” technology that already lets your Kindle Fire tablet play any music purchased digitally from Amazon’s store. (And because the music is stored on Amazon’s servers, you can also listen to that same music through Amazon’s web site, as well as on their Amazon Mp3 smartphone apps.) “Recognizing that the car is a perfect vehicle for mobile apps, Ford launched a new developer program…” reported GigaOm in January, “and announced nine new smartphone apps for its Ford Sync platform.” Besides Amazon’s Cloud Player, the voice-controlled apps included three broadcast and internet radio services — Rhapsody, Aha Radio, and Greater Media — plus on-demand audio programming from The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, plus a selection of magazine articles from a service called Kaliki.
Of course, no one should be reading ebooks while they’re driving, but Amazon is already well-positioned to deliver those same ebooks as audiobooks. They own Audible.com, of course, but more importantly, they’ve also introduced a special audiobook feature called WhisperSync for Voice. Now if you’re reading the text of an ebook on any Kindle, you can instantly switch over to its audiobook version in a Kindle app, and the audiobook’s narrator will continue reading right where you left off! Since Amazon has already created this service, “It would be cinch for Amazon to integrate that technology into the car,” writes the blogger at GigaOm.
My favorite part of his article was when the blogger tried to confirm the rumor with Amazon. “While an Amazon spokesperson confirmed that the company today has the technology to seamlessly switch between book formats, Amazon wouldn’t comment on any future connected car plans.” That’s the classic spokesperson response — neither confirming nor denying — and the spokesperson even spelled that out specifically, saying that “as a matter of policy Amazon doesn’t comment on future product plans.”
But the blogger also notes that Honda’s cars already include a library of audiobooks, and the automakers have been quick to add lots of other audio services to their “connected” car dashboards. So it may not be long before you really will start seeing a Kindle in your car dashboard.