RealTime IT News

Listen.com Wants To Network Your Music

NETGEAR, Inc., is looking to spread a little cheer and bring in new customers courtesy of a deal signed with Listen.com Monday. The home networking manufacturer of both wireline and wireless equipment is giving new customers a 30-day trial version of Rhapsody, the popular online streaming music company.

The Listen.com trial begins this fall, "in preparation for the holiday gift season," in conjunction with a Web site promotion, officials said, for NETGEAR's Platinum product line (wire line routers, modems and Ethernet adapters and switches). The manufacturer has no immediate plans for its wireless products.

The deal is reminiscent of what's offered in the PC industry, which commonly ties in software and Internet service provider (ISP) service deals with its product to differentiate from its competition. NETGEAR, like the software industry, is in a crowded market, competing against rivals Linksys and Lucent.

Joe Laszlo, a senior analyst with Jupiter Research, said sharing a broadband connection is only part of a strategy to get networking out of the early adopter stage and into the mainstream.

"Home networking technologies have proliferated and are hitting increasingly consumer-friendly price points," he said. "However, consumers will adopt home networking technologies as their needs require, and as applications justify them, with PC-based networks leading the charge. Vendors that provide online content and applications should start to evaluate opportunities created by extended connectivity in the home."

A Jupiter survey shows while 58 percent of homes in the U.S. have more than one PC, only one-third are connected as an intranet. Considering nearly one in four broadband users have three or more PCs, Jupiter concludes the interest is there.

Listen.com gives NETGEAR access to a potentially large audience of consumers who want to put music on all their computers and on their stereo systems. Rhapsody is currently the only online music site which features (legal) access to music files and streaming audio from the five major recording studios, in addition to deals with 60 independent labels.

Ken Presti, IDC network channels and alliances research director, said the joint marketing deal a step in the right for both companies.

"The success of networked entertainment in the home will depend on key partnerships and channels among product and service providers," he said. "These two companies have combined their technology to offer an easy, innovative music application that demonstrates the many uses and overall value-add of broadband in the home."

Listen.com already provides a seven-day trial version of its premium service, which costs $9.95 a month for unlimited streaming audio on 50 stations and $4.95 a month for up to 10 downloadable music files.

In other Listen.com news, the company announced a deal similar to NETGEAR's with iM Networks Monday, which gives non-PC (stereos, mobile devices and set-top boxes), but broadband connected, access to Internet streaming audio and music downloads. The trial is available today for iM Tuner and iM Ready users.