Jim Hu - News.com
September 22, 2004
As Internet giants step into the crowded online music arena, some are banking on a new weapon to help attack market leader Apple Computer: instant messaging.
Yahoo last week acquired digital music service Musicmatch for $160 million in cash in a move that adds a multimedia player, a digital music store and a subscription service to the companys arsenal. Despite the acquisition, Yahoo is on track to launch its own music service, music industry sources said, and eventually combine it with Musicmatch.
Yahoos plans are still sketchy, but sources close to the company say instant messaging will play a key role. While the popular IM software already lets people listen to online radio, new versions will let people share and interact with one anothers digital playlists.
"The whole advantage that (Yahoo) has is using its broad reach to push products and integrate them," said one source familiar with the plan who spoke under the condition of anonymity.
A Yahoo representative declined to comment for this story.
Microsoft has publicly acknowledged similar interests in tying its MSN Music online store into MSN Messenger. In a press conference last month, MSNs corporate vice president Yusuf Mehdi described a scenario in which two IM chatters could listen to each others playlists and then buy the songs if they wished.
Without any fanfare, MSN has already begun toying with playlist sharing. The latest MSN Messenger, version 6.2, contains a link to a test application called ThreeDegrees. Among other features, the software lets a person share a playlist with other members in a private group.
Microsofts Mehdi said eventual MSN Music features on IM will stem from ThreeDegrees development. A Microsoft representative declined to comment further on music integration in Messenger, but offered a glimpse of how ThreeDegrees is being used.
"Its a research product to test IM features," the representative said.
America Online has not talked publicly about its future online music plans. Its latest AOL Instant Messenger, version 5.9, includes a button to a Netscape-branded online radio stream.
Read the complete story at CNET News
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