Kaliki is self-described as the "Pandora for magazines," and will read out loud the articles growing stale on your desk while you're stuck in traffic. Still in development, the audio service appears to be based on the Atmoscast app, which works on some Nokia smartphones and is being developed for Samsung's Bada platform.
But rather than text-to-speech software, Atmoscast uses "voice artists" to read articles, which are selected and played within the app. Similarly, Kaliki's streaming articles will be narrations rather than robotic-sounding text translations, making it very similar to first mover Audible, which already offers iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry apps.
However, if Kaliki is aiming to be more like Pandora, it's possible that it could be creating an endless smorgasbord of audio articles based on a person's reading preferences, rather than require subscriptions to individual magazines. Taking the Pandora analogy one step further, the content could be ad-supported and free to listeners, and publishers would be paid a percentage of the revenue based on the number of times an article was played.
It's way too soon to tell if a Pandora-like business model will work for magazines--the service won't launch until 2012, and there's not much stopping Audible from releasing a very similar product before Kaliki gets a beta out the door.
The startup demonstrated a beta version of its offering at the Car Connectivity Consortium in Chicago last month to show auto manufacturers and electronics suppliers how the service could work in vehicles, and the demo is available on its Web site. Even when the service goes live, they'll still have to grapple with gaining traction in an increasingly crowded app market. And they'll have the added struggled of earning approval with car makers, since it's ultimately up to them to decide which apps to integrate into infotainment systems.