By Robert Menta- 3/29/01
Wouldn't it be nice to wake up to the strains of a familiar tune coming from your alarm clock. A song that will consistently wake you the way you want to be as opposed to the sounds a strident buzzer or some random tune on the radio that on some days will literally jolt you out of bed.
Digital music site ArtistDirect.com has found such an item and is using it to promote their service. Called MP3 O'clock, the unit is an alarm clock with an MP3 player inside capable of storing 50 seconds worth of music at the standard 128k compression ratio (songs recorded at 96 kbit or 64 kbit will play longer).
The clocks come it two retro designs, the deco styled South Beach model and the 50's kitsch designed Visitor model. Both sell for $45.00 and are available in several colors. The units will also play WAV files (WAV files are 10 times larger than MP3 files so only about several seconds of music can be loaded).
"When we heard about this product, we thought it would be a good way to get people to click over to our site and check it out, perhaps for the first time," said ArtistDirect's senior vice president Nick Turner. "We think it will inspire the sale of other products and inspire people to come back to the site more often."
The unit connects to the user's computer via a parallel port connection. Any MP3 file can be downloaded, but ArtistsDirect hopes to encourage users to explore their site for tunes to arise to. That is why they are targeting the 10 million names on its band e-mail lists with an e-mail campaign to tout the player.
"We will send an e-mail to people on the Mandy Moore list that will say 'Wake up with Mandy Moore every morning and hear a new single from her new album.' As we collect the data from people who have bought the clocks and downloaded these tracks, we can make them aware of our other products if they are interested in receiving that type of information."
ArtistsDirect will also create a series of free seasonal and humorous messages specifically for use on the MP3 O'clock. The site has an exclusive on the sale of the clocks for a couple of months. After that they will appear in department and electronic stores.
To us, the MP3 O'clock is another use that showcases the flexibility of the MP3 format. As we have pointed out before, 1's and 0's don't possess a physical shape like CD's and cassettes and this greater freedom of form is one of digital music's biggest competitive advantage as the shape and size of the player is not slave to the recording media.
If successful, don't be surprised to see similar products with larger memory capacities appear. As memory prices drop over time, an alarm clock with a 1GB laptop drive or IBM Microdrive may eventually show up that can hold hundreds of favorite songs selected randomly each morning.
We wonder if the MP3 O'clock will be mentioned at the Napster hearings next month when the music industry attempts to convince Congress how file trading - and the MP3 format in particular - is bad for the economy.
The Archos Jukebox 6000 - is a 6GB jukebox portable and can be ordered from Amazon for $349
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