Fresh on the heels of some interesting product introductions in Denver a few weeks ago, audio systems and accessories took center stage at two different previews in New York City the last few weeks. Battling with Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin for attention at the Millennium Hotel, was the long awaited Slacker program aimed at the audiophile component and PC software market. Palin was at the same hotel during her visit to the United Nations.
Slacker also unveiled an at home and/or portable music player/download system that works with and without a component player for under $200 stealing the thunder from Dell, whose first audio system has been delayed until next January.
According to some analysts, the Slacker System could deeply undercut Dell which was planning to enter the market this week and affect the industry leading Rhapsody service. Slacker, a music sharing web site similar to Rhapsody and Pandora and extremely popular with the under 25 demographic, was founded by Dennis Mudd, the long time so-called visionary in the digital audio business. The Slacker G2 Personal Radio player will be available immediately at Best Buy and other national chains. The Slacker G2 offers a whole house or mobile way to play digital music either from its proprietary Radio stations or on this new full-featured portable player.
The basic system is free; a monthly upgraded version with more features and no ads is $7.50 a month, undercutting industry leader Rhapsody by a few dollars. However, the Slacker system will also be available on selected mobile phones and audio component systems soon. Subscribers will not have to pay extra for their subscriptions on other Slacker devices. (Recently Verizon started charging extra for Rhapsody users to use Verizon mobile devices….causing quite a stir at both company’s customer hot lines.)
Slacker’s patent-pending radio delivery network automatically downloads and continuously refreshes thousands of personally selected songs on each device, and turns them into personalized radio stations – all for free. Because the players don’t have to be connected to Wi-Fi to play, Slacker G2 owners can listen to CD quality, personalized radio everywhere they go.
As for Slacker, multiple entry into mainstream consumer electronics via its own new hardware, the Web and other third party components, the Slacker system offers more than 100 expertly programmed Slacker stations, over 10,000 artist stations, or their own custom-created stations Slacker has previously announced licensing arrangements with all of the major record labels and publishers, and thousands of independent labels and publishers, to provide access to millions of songs that can be played online or on Slacker Personal Radio players.
- 2 million+ song library
- 100+ hand picked, expert-programmed genre stations
- Unlimited custom stations
- Compatible with the online service and Slacker Personal Radio players
- 6 song skips per hour, per station
Premium service ($7.50/month on an annual basis):
- Unlimited song skips on radio stations
- No advertising (on the free service you may get 1 or 2 short audio ads per hour or visual ads online)
- Saved songs - with Premium most of the radio songs can also be saved when you hear them to be played again later whenever you choose, either online or on the Slacker G2.
- Song requests - with Slacker Premium you can create custom stations by selecting an unlimited number of your favorite songs using the Slacker station creator (Create Station), with Free there are limits on the individual songs you can pick to build stations, but in either option you can select an unlimited number of your favorite artists.
And, speaking of hot, SRS, battling for brand and bragging rights against well healed DTS and Dolby, unveiled another multi-channel plug-in for audio systems that caused quite a stir at another showcase.
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Richard Sherwin is a former syndicated technology columnist and TV/Radio analyst, who has also been a marketing executive with IBM, Philips, NBC and a chief advisor to several manufacturers and service providers.