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Deal gives Shockwave voice

Macromedia strikes a deal with Telos Systems to bring live audio to its popular Shockwave.

Macromedia (MACR) announced today that it has struck a deal with Telos Systems to bring live audio to its popular Shockwave programming tool.

Macromedia, a San Francisco-based developer of authoring tools, said the agreement to support Telos's encoder box, called the Netcoder, will bring live streaming audio to Shockwave's multimedia capabilities.

The company said it expects the move to help double the number of Shockwave users by year's end and establish a strong presence in an increasingly crowded field for streaming audio and other multimedia tools. The free tool has already been downloaded 10 million times since its release ten months ago, according to Macromedia.

Joan-Carol Brigham, a senior staff consultant with International Data Corporation, said the decision fits in with Macromedia's push to offer a range of multimedia tools.

"Macromedia is on a mission. It wants to be the company to bring multimedia-data types to the Internet," Brigham said. Shockwave already offers streaming audio, streamed high-resolution images, and 2D vector graphics for Web site authoring. "This is the next step."

As for Telos's strategy, the Cleveland, Ohio-based company is looking to cash in on Shockwave's ubiquity.

The Netcoder is part of the Telos Audioactive product, which includes replication software that lets as many as 2,000 users to listen in live on a single T3 connection. It also includes the audio player software for end users, which does the same job as Shockwave. The product's support of Internet protocols like TCP/IP and HTTP also ensure that the audio can be heard through firewalls to reach corporate intranets and other private sites, the company said.

Shockwave is available at Macromedia's Web site and with Netscape PowerPack. Shockwave will eventually be included in Netscape Navigator and Personal Edition; Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 and Windows 95; Internet-ready Macintosh machines; and America Online.

Telos's first customer is Apple Computer, which is already using the Netcoder to offer live concerts on its Macintosh Music Network.

Using Shockwave with the Netcoder, "cybersurfers could tune in to a live concert while flipping through multimedia program notes, hear their favorite local radio station anywhere in the world, or listen to live business presentations while reviewing corporate materials," the two companies said.

While Shockwave's and Telos's comparable audio player can be downloaded free of charge, live audio will not come without a price. To play live audio, Internet service providers and Web sites must first install Netcoder boxes.

The hardware, which sits on the Web server, will sell for about $7,000 when it starts shipping around the end of the month, according to the companies. In addition to targeting ISPs, Telos said it will market the boxes to the music industry and corporations looking (literally) to jazz up their online sites.