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Philips To Enter MP3 Market

Philips Electronics will introduce an SMDI-compliant MP3 player by the first quarter of 2000, the company said. The device will come equipped with enough capacity on a removable flash memory card to play about one hour of digital-quality music.

“We are bringing a long history of achievements in audio technology to this exciting new world of portable solid state audio,” said Guy Demuynck, president of the Business Group Philips Audio. “Coupling our strength in audio technology with advancements in solid state technology, Philips further strengthens its leading position in the new digital recording world.”

The Philips player, like other MP3-capable players, is a solid-state device, which offers several advantages over tape or CD players with moving parts. They are relatively shockproof, lightweight and use less battery power. Also, MP3 and other digital music formats can be downloaded off the Internet and stored on a computer.

The Secure Digital Music Initiative proposal is intended to combat music piracy, a major concern for record companies. Several CE manufacturers were waiting upon the SDMI to announce its standards for secure music transfers before announcing their own MP3 products. “We are pleased that the fast-track phase 1 SDMI proposal now allows us to finalize our product introduction plans,” Demuynck said. “We want to offer solid-state products that ensure that all MP3 files — future and existing — can be downloaded on our players.”

Philips also announced that its player would be “seamlessly integrated” with RealNetworks Inc.’s RealJukebox. RealNetworks is a Seattle-based company that delivers streaming media over the Internet. Its software lets users of personal computers and other CE devices to send and receive audio, video and other multimedia services over the World Wide Web. The RealJukebox application acts as a music manager on a PC, allowing users to download music, record CDs and transfer these music files to portable devices, such as the Philips’ model or the Lyra from Thomson Consumer Electronics.