Although homegrown Internet giants Flipkart and Ola are doubling down on their efforts to weed out foreign competition through their lobby group Indiatech, ecommerce mammoth Amazon is not one to cower. In fact, the Jeff Bezos-led company seems to be on a roll recently. After bringing its smart, wireless speaker Echo to India last month, Amazon is back, this time with its audiobook and entertainment service, Audible.
Slated for a launch early next year, the service will allow users to listen to their favourite books on the go. According to some sources, the platform is undergoing beta testing to make it more suitable for India, customers.
While Amazon has not yet confirmed the development, a spokesperson from the company stated, “We are always looking to continue to develop our offerings on behalf of our global membership base. As in the past, we don’t talk about new products and services until they are available, but please stay tuned!”
As part of the beta testing phase, the ecommerce company currently piloting Audible internally among its employees. It will reportedly take Amazon another three to four months before it can officially rollout the audiobook and entertainment service in India.
To bolster the service, the company is currently expanding its repository of audiobooks, including classics as well as best sellers, sources revealed.
Amazon Leveraging Audible To Attract Book Lovers
Established in 1995, Audible originally operated as a seller and producer of spoken audio entertainment, information and educational programming on the Internet. It also specialised in selling audiobooks, TV and radio programmes as well as audio versions of magazines and newspapers.
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On January 31, 2008, the Newark-based company was acquired by Amazon for $300 Mn, post which it became a subsidiary of Amazon. Globally, Audible was later synced with Amazon’s e-reader series, Kindle. Currently in the US, Audible is priced at $7 per month for non-Prime users. For Prime customers, however, the service is free.
While Amazon is yet to decide how much the service could be charged in India, it is likely that the audiobook platform Audible will be available at a much lower price here than in the US, as was the case with its premium membership programme, Amazon Prime.
When it made its debut in India in January 2016, Prime was available for an introductory price of $7.6 (INR 499) for a year. The company has since raised it to $15.3 (INR 999) a year. Compared to that, customers in the US have to shell out $92 (INR 6,000) yearly.
Amazon Doubling Down On The Indian Market With New Launches
Amazon has been pretty aggressive with new launches in the Indian market, besides fueling existing business. To that end, it has steadily introduced its global products and services in the country. First came the dedicated e-reader Amazon Kindle in 2013 followed by its subsequent variants.
Some of the services that the ecommerce behemoth has brought to India in the last two years include its popular Prime membership, Amazon Prime Video, grocery delivery app Amazon Now, Amazon Pantry and its e-wallet, Amazon Pay.
In April this year, it also launched its video streaming device, Amazon Fire TV Stick, to rival Google Chromecast. Most recently, in October, the company’s AI enabled virtual assistant Alexa-powered wireless voice-controlled speaker, Echo, entered the Indian market amidst much pomp and show. The product is available on an invite-only basis on the company’s global website in three variants – Echo, Echo Plus, and Echo Dot.
As part of the launch, Amazon’s Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and Alexa Voice Service (AVS) also made their debut in the country. These services are aimed at enabling developers around the world to build voice experiences for Alexa customers. At the time of its announcement, Amazon also revealed plans of launching Prime Music in India soon.
A Glimpse Of Amazon’s Plans For India
The Internet of Things market stood at $5.6 Bn with 200 Mn connected units as of 2016. As per a report by NASSCOM and Deloitte, the sector is expected to grow to $15 Bn with 2.7 Bn units by 2020.
The report read, “By 2020, we believe industries such as utilities, manufacturing, automotive, transportation and logistics are expected to see highest adoption levels of IoT in India. The government’s planned investment of about $1 Bn for 100 smart cities, over the next five years, is expected to be a key enabler for IoT adoption across these industries.”
Having earmarked over $5 Bn for India, Amazon is leveraging the growing potential of Internet of Things to gain a stronghold in the country. In a recent interaction with ET Now, Amazon India Head Amit Agarwal gave us a glimpse into the ecommerce behemoth’s plans for India, stating that company was not looking to clock profits at the moment and was instead focussed on investing in new products and technologies to widen its customer base. How its audiobook and entertainment service Audible fare in India remains to be seen.