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Onkyo Invests In Avnera, Readies Wireless Audio

1/15/2010 02:38:09 PM Eastern

Beaverton, Ore. - Onkyo of Japan has invested in
wireless-audio technology developer Avnera,
which said Onkyo will launch products equipped with its technology in the
second half of the year.

Avnera's technology can be used to create wireless multisource,
multizone-audio systems with what Avnera calls "wired-quality" sound. It also delivers
sound wirelessly to surround speakers in a home theater system.

From existing investors and from first-time investor Onkyo,
Avnera raised a total of $10 million in its latest
round of financing
. The size of Onkyo's investment wasn't disclosed, nor
were the types of products planned. Avnera also declined to comment on whether
the Onkyo products would be available in the U.S.

As for Onkyo's planned products, it also wasn't clear if the
audio supplier would apply Best Buy's Rocketboost
brand to the Avnera technology. Best Buy, which is also an Avnera investor, applied
the Rocketboost name to the technology in products launched last October in the
chain's Rocketfish line of private-label accessories. The chain has also been recruiting
major CE suppliers to embed Avnera technology in their branded products and market
the technology under the Rocketboost name. A Rocketboost logo appearing on
products from multiple brands would signify the ability of the products to
interoperate.

Best Buy wants to offer products from major CE suppliers with
the Rocketboost logo, but it also has said nothing would prohibit suppliers
from selling their Rocketboost-equipped products through other retailers as
well.

Rocketboost-equipped accessories in Best Buy's Rocketfish
line connect to existing music sources, sound systems and active or passive
speakers to deliver wireless multizone audio. The products can also be used to
deliver audio wirelessly to up to four surround speakers at a time.

Onkyo-brand products are available in Best Buy's Magnolia
Home Theater outlets within full-line Best Buy stores. Onkyo hasn't yet
responded to a request for comment.

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