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.

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