Audio On Demand Will Go Mobile in 1997 with Listen Up

upertino, CA. The audio-on-demand market continues to heat up. A month ago, Progressive Networks introduced RealAudio Player Plus software that allows web surfers to tune into personalized audio content on the net as if scanning favorite stations with a radio receiver. Now, Audio Highway aims to go one better by delivering personalized audio content to listeners on the go.

Audio Highway yesterday announced the Listen Up™ player, a small, portable device which delivers personalized audio content to “information-hungry, on-the-go consumers.”

“With a Listen Up Player and an Internet account, consumers will be able to peruse and select audio versions of news, general information, entertainment, education, books and business selections for storage and replay through their player,” says Nathan Schulhof, President and CEO of Audio Highway. “Coupled with the Internet, Listen Up gives consumers the freedom to select the audio content they want to hear and a mechanism to hear it when and where they want to.”

The Listen Up Player is just out of final design. The company says it will retail at $299 (US). It is similar in size to a typical pager, approximately 4 x 2 x 1.5 inches, and it weighs less than four ounces. Sound is delivered via headsets or through transmission to an automobile or home stereo system.

Audio Highway will initially store audio selections on its web servers, where Listen Up customers will be able to view and select personalized audio selections. Once chosen, audio selections will be delivered to the hard drive of a consumer’s personal computer, then transferred to a Listen Up player via a pass-through parallel port.

The Listen Up player that Audio Highway plans to ship in early 1997 will store up to one full hour of audio content in internal memory. It will also include a Listen Up docking station, headphones, AudioWiz™ system software, and a car adapter. It will run for three months on two AAA penlight batteries.

“We will begin national field testing of the Listen Up Player this November,” Schulhof said. “We will formally introduce Listen Up, Audio Highway and its other products and services at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 1997 in Las Vegas. We plan to begin shipments of Listen Up players that same quarter.”

At launch, all Audio Highway content is going to be ad-supported, and delivered free of charge to consumers. For every hour of selected audio content, consumers will receive three minutes of audio advertising messages, in six 30-second spots.

Audio Highway has already signed agreements with a number of media companies to provide a wide selection of continually-updated audio content to its customers. Among the initial content choices available to Listen Up consumers will be tens of thousands of selections ranging from news, books, self- improvement programs, magazine articles, radio and television programs and movie reviews.

Content providers taking part in the November trials of production units include Associated Press, Berlitz, CMP Media, SyberVision, Harper Audio, Newsweek, PR Newswire and Time-Warner Audio Books, among others.

Audio Highway customers will also be able to forward email messages to their Listen Up players. Audio Highway software will be available to convert text email messages into electronic speech for future playback in a mobile environment. As a mobile digital recording device, Listen Up players will also allow consumers to record messages that can be forwarded to individuals with email accounts for future playback through another Listen Up player or a multimedia PC.

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