Artificial intelligence is taking over the world these days and many firms are rushing to become the leaders of different market niches by bringing this technology to existing solutions and products.
This time it appears to be Apple’s turn as the Cupertino-based company has rolled out a new product called “Madison” that offers audiobooks narrated by AI-generated human-like voices.
Journalists from Ars Technica gave the software a try and reported that the voice could be passed by that of an actual human if listened to for a relatively short period. However, it lacked the emotions that a human being would typically convey when reading certain phrases.
Why is Apple Focusing on Audiobooks?
Apple (AAPL) has shown its strong interest in the AI-powered audiobook market as it reached out to small publishers to buy the rights to incorporate their masterpieces into the Apple Books’ library while taking care of all associated costs.
The company headed by Tim Cook is aiming to reduce the cost of producing audiobooks for publishers so they can be more enticed to make their literature available on the company’s app.
At the moment, audiobooks are narrated by actual humans who charge a fee for creating these recordings. The best voices in the industry can charge as much as $500 an hour for their work.
“Many authors — especially independent authors and those associated with small publishers — aren’t able to create audiobooks due to the cost and complexity of production”, the company stated in a blog post.
“Digitally narrated titles are a valuable complement to professionally narrated audiobooks, and will help bring audio to as many books and as many people as possible”, the post added.
Currently, authors can choose from four different voices including Madison or Jackson for fictional and romantic literature and Helena or Mitchell for non-fictional books. The company suggests the use of two applications – Draft2Digital and Ingram CoreSource – to produce these “digitally narrated” audiobooks.
For now, the software is only available to books written in English and only a few genres will be supported for now as the company continues to fine-tune these digital voices so they can better convey the book’s contents.
More Details About the Audiobook Industry
The global audiobooks market reportedly generated revenues of $4.22 billion in 2022 and it is projected to grow at a rate of 26.4% annually from 2022 to 2030 according to a report from Grand View Research. The leading players in the industry include Audible, Hachette Audio, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster.
Data from Ibis World indicates that Audible has a market share of over 60% in the United States while Spotify recently entered the market to offer audiobooks within its popular audio streaming platform.
Audible offers a subscription package that starts at $7.95 per month while Apple Books works under a pay-per-book model. The Apple Books app is accessible on any iOS-powered device including iPhones and iPads.
Apple’s efforts are echoing an industrywide trend that consists of the incorporation of artificial intelligence to virtually any existing software-as-a-service (SaaS). One example is Microsoft’s partnership with OpenAI to enhance its flagship products – i.e. Bing and MS Office.
Recently, the company headed by Satya Nadella has been working on an AI-powered version of Bing that aims to make the search engine more conversational and less keyword-focused to compete with Alphabet’s leading product – Google.
It appears that large tech companies have already identified some tectonic shifts occurring in the space such as video taking over images, the incorporation of AI technology into almost everything, and an increased interest in privacy protection.
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