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Sanyo jumps on digital music bandwagon

Player to support Liquid Audio, MP3

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Japanese consumer electronics giant Sanyo today pulled the wraps off its upcoming portable digital music player -- and announced it intends to offer a full range of digital music devices, from hi-fi separates to in-store kiosks. Sanyo's announcement follows July's release of the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) portable player specification, and the unveiling of similar devices from Philips, Matsushita and Toshiba. The device itself, as yet unnamed, will be based on Texas Instruments DSP chips and use Liquid Audio's Secure Portable Player Platform (SPPP -- or SP3, as Liquid Audio puts it in a desperate attempt to make it sounds like 'MP3') as its music format of choice, although it will also play MP3, Dolby Digital and others. So far only Diamond Multimedia (in its next-generation Rio) has pledged support for Liquid Audio's music format, so today's announcement is a significant boost for the music software specialist. Sanyo intends to license its player to third-parties, and that includes SPPP and TI's DSP chip. The trio's combined offerings will be submitted to the SDMI for its final spec., now due next March. The Sanyo-Liquid Audio-TI partnership is also one of the growing number of alliances between technology, music and consumer electronics players in the emerging digital music market. For example, recording giant Universal has teamed up with Matsushita, Intertrust and AT&T, while Sony is working with Microsoft. All of which is good for the MP3 digital music format. As the only format almost every device will play -- except for Matsushita's, which may prove a costly mistake -- buyers are likely to choose to download MP3 files since that's the only way they can be sure their music collection can be ported to any further players they may buy from other manufacturers. ®

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