Amazon Buys Ivona, Plans to Give Skynet a Sexy Voice on Judgement Day

Kindle-fire-front-and-side[1]It looks like Amazon is expanding their presence into another industry this week. They’ve just announced the acquisition of the text to speech specialists Ivona.

Amazon was already working with the firm to improve upon the basic Android text-to-speech, voice commands and “Explore by Touch” features found in the latest versions of Android. Amazon announced some time back that they were going to use Ivona’s tech in the Kindle Fire because it would offer a much more pleasing sound than the stock Android voices.

This Polish company was started in 2001 by 2 graduates of Gdansk University, and it has been working for the past decade to maintain a lead in voice technologies. The exact terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Next Reader24 January, 2013

    Good job. Unfortunately for Onyx Ebook readers Amazon will probably remove this software from future Onyx Hardware.

    One change – instead of Gda?sk it should be Gdansk.

    Nate – I have left you some other tip on your gmail account.

    1. Nate Hoffelder24 January, 2013

      Wasn’t that just the Onyx Boox ereaders distributed by Artatech? I thought I recalled a boast that the other Onyx distributors weren’t adding Ivona TTS.

      1. Next Reader24 January, 2013

        You’re right. I’ve checked it – it was only in those distributed by Artatech,

  2. Mike Cane24 January, 2013

    You might find it funny but this is a serious investment in accessibility for those with vision problems. The biggest mistake Amazon has yet made was to remove TTS from the eInk Kindles. They locked out many people from enjoying Kindle eBooks inexpensively. Now they must buy color tablets.

    1. fjtorres24 January, 2013

      The Kindles were using TTS licensed from Nuance. Now that Amazon owns Ivona they get to use it for free.
      Since Ivona already runs on Linux we may get a new Kindle4-clas reader with audio this fall.

    2. Brian24 January, 2013

      Which is why they have kept the Kindle Keyboard available. Folks don’t have to buy a tablet to get TTS on Amazon’s platform.

    3. Nate Hoffelder24 January, 2013

      But they already used the tech. Buying the company isn’t going to change that.

      1. fjtorres24 January, 2013

        It changes the economics/book-keeping.
        Which lets them put it in the entry level model. Or charge less for mdels with audio.
        For a one-time charge they reduce their product costs across the board. And Ivona gets to contribute a few extra bucks into the kitty. 🙂
        It may also come in handy come time to ship the Kindle phone.

  3. carmen webster buxton24 January, 2013

    I have a Paperwhite and while I miss having TTS on it, I don’t think it would have helped people with severe visual impairment to have added it. The way the menus work on the Paperwhite, making a it read a book out loud would be too hard to do if you can’t see the screen. Amazon still sells the Kindle Keyboard model, and it’s a much better bet for accessibility.

    I just hope the newer, more human sounding voice can pronounce words better (grimace is currently pronounced “grim mace”) and will have better pauses for punctuation so that dialog sounds more like dialog.

  4. Tim5Brown24 January, 2013

    Now the price goes up? Why not iSpeech?

  5. […] Polly is the other reason Amazon bought Ivona three years ago. In addition to using Ivona's tech for the text-to-speech voices on the Fire tablets and for the […]

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