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Microsoft eyes Audible stake

Microsoft is reportedly moving to invest in the maker of a system for delivery and mobile playback of audio downloaded from the Internet.

Microsoft is moving to invest in Audible, maker of a system for delivery and mobile playback of audio downloaded from the Internet, according to a report.

Microsoft may be interested in taking a stake in Audible in order to have its Windows CE operating software in as many handheld devices as possible, the Wall Street Journal reported. The report added that Microsoft may also be interested in selling its own audio content from MSNBC, a joint programming effort with television network NBC.

Audible and Microsoft were not available for comment.

Audible markets its handheld MobilePlayer that can hold two hours of audio for mobile playback. The company has also created AudibleManager, a software system that manages access to, scheduling, and automatic delivery of audio programming. Audible is also a Web store, offering more than 10,000 hours of spoken audio programming from more than 75 different providers.

Audible audio partners include more than 70 audiobook publishers, business conference providers, and educational, cultural institutions, and news organizations. Partners include Harvard Business School Publishing, The Economist, and public radio programs such as Fresh Air, and Marketplace.

The company was founded in 1995 by Timothy Mott, former CEO and former chairman of Macromedia, and Don Katz, an award-winning journalist. Mott is currently Audible's chairman.

Audible's investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Patricof & Company, Ironwood Capital, ATT Ventures, The Thomson Corporation, Intel, Compaq Computer, and Hambrecht & Quist.