Two new technologies will enable users to download music from the Internet to play in their cars and homes.
UK company Empeg is readying a product known as Empeg-car, which fits into the dashboard like a stereo. The product contains a 2.1Gb drive, expandable to 28.8Gb, which can store and play MP3 music files. Users record MP3 music to the drives from their PCs. Empeg-car is expected to ship in March.
Meanwhile, Adaptec is working on software to let users play MP3 files in normal CD players. Internet music label Goodnoise is also involved in the effort.
MP3 is a way of storing music in small files that can be downloaded from the Internet. At the moment, the files can only be played on a PC or dedicated MP3 system like the Diamond Rio, or Empeg's drive. MP3 would be pushed into the consumer mainstream if it could be played on standard CD systems.
The Adaptec and Goodnoise software will be able to store up to 150 MP3 files on a recordable CD. Any CD player would then be able to play MP3 files using the converter software.
Goodnoise is an evangelist of MP3 and music distribution over the Internet.
Because it does not have the huge distribution and marketing costs of major record labels, it claims it can share more of the profits with its artists.
The traditional music industry, however, is deeply opposed to MP3, which opens the possibility of artists releasing their wares directly on to the Internet, bypassing record companies. The Recording Industry Association, which is made up of the world's biggest labels, has been pushing to halt its acceptance by consumers by arguing that the technology is a pirate's dream.
Given the pressure from record industry heavyweights, analysts believe it will be difficult for Adaptec and Goodnoise to get their software accepted by traditional CD player manufacturers, like Sony. The partners are, however, undeterred, and claim to have had numerous enquires from hardware makers about the technology.
However, the companies could give no dates for commercial release of the product.
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