Digital music will be all-pervasive, Rob Glaser, chairman and chief executive of online audio giant Realnetworks, told a packed house at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Attendees rose at the crack of dawn to hear Glaser's vision for digital entertainment and his plans to put Realnetworks software everwhere, from regular CD players to MP3 devices and TV set-top boxes.
He also launched a new version of Realnetworks' Realjukebox software, called Update 1, which enables users to burn standard CDs from music tracks downloaded from the Web.
"The PC may act as a hub, but digital music will be on gadgets everywhere," Glaser said as he demonstrated one of the most coveted items at the show, an MP3 Casio watch.
Glaser envisages that the PC will be the hub for storing and distributing consumers' music collections and that Realjukebox will become the primary method of obtaining digital music and transferring it to the host of new devices.
Realjukebox' forthcoming Update 1 version also adds support for Iomega?s removable drives to make it easier for users to move their music from the home to the office PC, for example.
Hailing Update 1 as a "watershed in digital music distribution", Glaser said the company has struck a deal that will eventually enable Universal Music to distribute its vast catalogue of artists via Realjukebox.
To prove that Realjukebox will soon be in most living rooms, Glaser demonstrated two forthcoming versions of the software. The first is a touch-screen version that will let consumers not only listen to a track, but view photos of the artist, follow the song lyrics and read a biography.
The other is a video version of the software which will run on set-top boxes. The software will enable users to view pop videos as well as movies at the touch of a button.
Glaser failed to indicate, however, when Realnetworks plans to bring these versions to market.
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