RealTime IT News

Wireless Tao Shaking Up Music Player Share

FOSTER CITY, Calif. -- Tao is the latest entry hoping to put a dent in Apple's market-leading iPod music player.

The Tao Wireless Media Player is an MP3 player with built-in Wi-Fi access, which gives consumers the ability to download music from any available wireless hotspot.

Tao has several other noteworthy features, including the ability to schedule recordings of favorite programs and act as an FM transmitter and receiver. Tao users can share songs and content with other Tao users, though you still have to pay for content you haven't already purchased.

Tao Media Player
Tao Wireless Media Player
Source: Giant International

"This is a next-generation MP3 player; you no longer have to browse the Internet looking for songs to move to your player," Marjon DeGroot, business director at Tao told internetnews.com at the Digital Living Room conference here. "I can't imagine all the MP3 players having wireless capability in two to three years."

Tao, which includes a 20GB hard drive and two headphone jacks, will be available later this month in a "soft launch" via the company's Web site for $399 and through partners such as Audible.com which will offer $100 off for new subscribers.

"Tao is a unique approach because it frees you up from having to use a PC and gives you a lot more flexibility," Tim Bajarin, analyst with Creative Strategies, told internetnews.com.

"People want instant on and ready access to services, so I think they are right. In two years wireless is the direction all the players will be going."

Though a relatively unknown brand, Tao hopes to make waves with its wireless entry with the help of partners Soniqcast and PassAlong Networks. DeGroot said the company is also lining up distribution partnerships for distribution with major resellers.

"With the Tao Wireless Media Player, you're seeing the convergence of several digital trends combined into one technology," David Jaworski, CEO of PassAlong Networks, said in a statement.

The Soniqcast platform facilitates wireless Wi-Fi access. PassAlong Networks has a suite of private-label applications, including digital rights management, designed to offer client companies such as Tao the ability to offer a portfolio of more than 1.6 million licensed songs.

Atlanta-based Tao already sells XM2go, a portable version of the satellite radio player. The company is a part of Giant International, a spin-off of Motorola's two-way radio business, and a nationwide provider of home and business electronics and communications devices.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story had information a promotion with T-Mobile provided to us by Tao, which was not finalized. The $100 off offer from Audible.com replaces that information