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Liquid Audio wins Iomega support

Zip vendor to bundle Liquid Audio Player and co-sponsor music retail site

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Iomega has agreed to bundle Liquid Audio's digital music software with future storage products -- in a special version keyed to specific Zip disks. The first fruits of the deal are likely to appear early next year when Iomega begins to ship its 250MB successor to the popular 100MB Zip drive (see Iomega to update Zip). Both companies will also sponsor a new Web site, Tunus Collectus, that will offer a monthly music club to encourage users to download tracks from "popular artists". The site will be maintained by online music retailer SoundStone.com. The agreement follows similar deals Liquid Audio has cut with Diamond Multimedia and Adaptec -- Diamond will support Liquid Audio's downloadable music format in the Rio player, and Adaptec will support it CD-ROM burning software (see Diamond to add Liquid Audio to Rio). Intel invested in Liquid Audio in August. Liquid Audio is certainly the clear winner here. It has been pushing its downloadable music system for some time, but has struggled against MP3, the MPEG-based digital music format that user love but the music industry hates, thanks to the way it makes music piracy easy. On the other hand, the business loves Liquid Audio, which includes copyright protection and payment tracking features. The commercial market for downloadable music is still in its early infancy, but when it begins to mature, Liquid Audio wants to be seen as the standard, and has been quietly doing deals with music companies, Web music retailers, and PC and storage suppliers to build up the kind of market presence it will need to win out ahead of the likes of Dolby and RealNetworks. Iomega, of course, wants everyone to rush out and buy bucket-loads of Zip disks to store their music collection on. Why anyone would want to do keep music on clunky cartridges rather than the CDs they're used to (and will play anywhere), is anyone's guess, but Iomega clearly reckon enough people won't yet have CD-R drives handy to make Zip an alternative. And, just to make sure, it's tying of downloaded tracks to specific disks. You'll be able to move disks between machines, but not copy tracks off them. Which ties in nicely with the plan Iomega announced a few weeks' back to persuade set-top box manufacturers and consumer electronics manufacturers to start building Zip drives into their kit. Zip disk replacing CD as the music medium? Insane? You have your answer, but clearly Iomega has another. ® See also
Roy Taylor: PC killed the music publisher

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