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Half a2b staff jump ship to Reciprocal

Saw which side their online bread was buttered

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Over half of the staff at AT&T's digital music subsidiary, a2b, have walked out to join Microsoft-backed content rights management software developer Reciprocal. To make matter worse for the telecoms giant, the mass defection was led by a2b co-founders Larry Miller and Howie Singer. Miller said he and his co-defectors made the move to give themselves the opportunity to work in a "better place" where they can "accelerate their work", according to a report in the New York Times. At Reciprocal they will form a music delivery division. Presumably they will be given a deal of autonomy -- it is believed one of the reasons the founders bailed out of a2b is AT&T's refusal to spin the division off into a separate company. That doesn't say much for a2b the company, and it's not what you'd call a vote of confidence in the a2b digital music format either. Not only is it fighting against the controversial MP3 format and other digital music distribution pioneers like Liquid Audio, but now it faces stiff competition from the Sony-backed Microsoft Windows Media Technologies (based, in part, on Reciprocal technology), RealNetworks and alternatives from various music and consumer electronics companies. The format's only hope now comes from AT&T's alliance with music giant Universal, which plans to open up its own digital delivery service later this year, quite possibly with a2b as its chosen format (see Universal online music plan gains AT&T, Matsushita backing). AT&T said it will continue to develop a2b and is to appoint a ex-CompuServe executive to take charge of the company's 12 remaining staff. ® See also a2b unveils latest digital music player, format Microsoft launches MP3 killer RealNetworks launches universal digital music player

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