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Study: Internet Radio To Boost Networked Multi-Room Audio

London – The growth of Internet Radio and networked devices will
revitalize the home audio market, Futuresource Consulting
contended in a study.

“With the continued rise of home networks, it is evident that
Internet radio is here to stay, and it’s just a short leap to networked audio,”
said senior analyst David Watkins

“Server-to-audio networking, combined with wireless multi-room
audio systems, is just the beginning,” he said. “Several vendors are
already developing networked solutions which allow remote control of your iPod
and other handheld devices across a home network, effectively turning handheld
devices into servers.” The “outlook starts to look very enticing” when you
throw in the capability of iPhones and iPod Touches to act as both a music
source and a wireless remote controller, he added.

Potential applications for networked audio include connecting a
laptop to a music system without using wires, a home theater system playing
music streamed from a remote PC or media server, and A/V receivers streaming
music wirelessly to other devices in the home, he said.

Home audio systems could stream Internet radio through a
networked PC, Wi-Fi-equipped smartphone, or Wi-Fi-equipped portable media
player, but Futuresource sees more opportunity in home audio devices with
embedded Internet radio. “The unique selling point for embedded Internet radio
is convenience and immediacy,” Watkins said. “There’s no need to boot up a PC;
you simply hit a button and you’re listening to your favorite music or talk
show in an instant.”

Internet radio can be embedded in A/V receivers, home-theater
systems and tabletop radios. The latter market will grow from less than 500,000
units worldwide in 2008 to close to 5 million units by 2013, the company said.

“Networking solutions are on the brink of revitalizing
markets for home audio products,” Watkins said. But challenges remain. “Ease
of use, seamless user interfaces and robust wireless operation are an essential
next step to move the market from niche to high volume,” the company said. By 2013,
however, networked features on medium priced audio devices will be “standard
fare,” and consumers “will increasingly become dependent on the Internet for
their music.”

The company’s research and conclusions and contained in a 60-plus
page report.