Saturday, January 26, 2008

Playway's British competitor Mi-Vox, Nokia's audiobook player, and the Audiofy chip

I've been waiting to see if any competitors arise to challenge the Playaway as the dominant preloaded audiobook player. Here's a peak at a British product called the Mi-Vox. It appears to be very start-up at the present time, with a limited number of titles. Plus, the Mi-Vox website does not tout one of my favorite features of the Playaway - slow & fast speed settings. I wonder if the preloaded audiobook is something that will survive, or whether we will look back at a format that will join the laser disc in the Museum of Archaic Technology.

My personal opinion is that the ubiquitous cell phone will become the mobile audiobook player. Take a look at the Nokia Audiobook software. There is also the Audiofy audiobook chip, a memory card which can be played in a variety of hardware - cell phones, iPod, Windows-based PDAs, and Audiofy's own super-small Iofy player. Who knows what technology will be left standing a decade from now?


mi-vox audio books said...

Hi Mary, Thanks for this interesting post, and it's nice to see another audiobook addict like me blogging on the web!

I'm the managing director of mi-vox, so I was particularly interested to see your comments about our pre-loaded audiobooks, and how they fit into the overall market.

Our customers are telling us that they like the fact that the mi-vox is relatively cheap and disposable. So a lot of parents are buying them to give to their children. Young children like them because they look like the iPods that older children and adults have.

You did mention iPods which are wonderful devices, but if you lost one you'd be pretty unhappy about it, as your whole music collection would be gone. So you wouldn't want to lend one to a young child for a day or two. And the all-in-one nature of mobile phones and PDAs means you can't be parted from them, so lending them to your children is out of the question anyway.

In addition to these factors, I believe that the mi-vox has a bright future for adults to use too. For example, one scenario is exercising. If you're jogging on a treadmill or peddling an exercise bike, you'd probably have your mobile phone switched on silent and left somewhere safe so that you can do your exercise session uninterrupted. Listening to a mi-vox is a valuable use of this time, indeed some of our customers learn languages like this. And if the audioplayer gets damaged or lost, it's not such a problem.

Mary, I'm delighted to meet another enthusiast and commentator on this interesting subject, and I look forward to corresponding with you further as the future unfolds.

Regards, Andy Martin

Playaway - preloaded digital audiobooks said...

Hi Mary –

Playaway is very proud to be the inventor of the preloaded digital audio book and bring our simple, portable, all-in-one format to a welcoming audience. Within our 3 short years as a company, we have gained a firm foothold as industry leader, with 66 publishing partners and 100% annual growth for each year we’ve been in business. We currently distribute in North America, the UK, Europe and Latin America. We have over 1,300 titles in our collection with aggressive goals to expand this collection even farther over the next year – our total collection is available at

At Playaway, our preloaded digital audiobooks are designed for sharing and continual use, just like a good book. We are in over 5000 libraries across the US and in the UK where our Playaways are continually circulated. We are actually the fastest growing format for audio book content in the US library market, including CDs, downloads and iofy. For our consumers, we have our RePlay program. RePlay is a great program for our customers to share and recycle their Playaways and receive 50% off their next Playaway title.

Another testament to the durability of Playaways can be seen in our involvement with the Military. During the past year, the United States Military has purchased and shipped tens of thousands of Playaways to troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world through their respective Military Library Programs. Playaways are distributed and shared among our troops on both the front and backlines and we receive numerous letters of appreciation and requests for additional Playaways directly from the troops themselves.

As we continue to grow in leaps and bounds, we are excited to have a product that provides such a great experience. We will continue to provide and improve upon this experience and expect our product to maintain its popularity among audiobook lovers all over. Thank you for a great article and Happy Listening!

Kacey Durbin, Customer Experience Specialist, Playaway

Mary Burkey said...

Thanks for your comments, Kacey & Andy! I love the fact that there are many ways to enjoy audiobooks. I will keep watching (and listening to!) your products. I am sure you will continue to have exciting enhancements as time goes on.

Wishing you every success -