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Xing wins one in the Net streaming game

In a sign that competition in the audio/video streaming market is starting to heat up, a popular Web site that delivers radio broadcasts over the Internet has dropped market-leading RealAudio software in favor of a technology from upstart Xing Technologies.

In a sign that competition in the audio/video streaming market is starting to heat up, a popular Web site that delivers radio broadcasts over the Internet has dropped Progressive Networks' market-leading RealAudio software in favor of a technology from upstart Xing Technologies.

NetRadio Network today announced that it would offer broadcasts using Xing's StreamWorks, a plug-in for Web browsers that allows users to receive streamed audio, as well as video, over the Net.

Rather than wait for bulky multimedia clips to download from the Net before playing them, audio and video streaming technology allows users to listen and watch files while they're being downloaded. Progressive Networks has leaped to the forefront of the Net audio, but increasingly the company is facing competition from other audio and video streaming vendors, including Macromedia, VDOnet, and VXtreme.

According to NetRadio officials, Xing's StreamWorks offers better audio quality than RealAudio, as well as the ability to display video broadcasts. NetRadio has integrated the StreamWorks software into a customized browser plug-in called NetCompanion.

The company also said that it was concerned that Progressive Networks, which has launched its own Web site for audio broadcasts, was beginning to compete with the NetRadio Web site.

"(Progressive Networks) is in a strange position," said Robert Griggs, CEO of NetRadio Networks. "I don't need to compete and partner with the same company."

Analysts said that Progressive Networks isn't likely to cede its top position in the audio market anytime soon.

"They've already established a good program that is one of the standards," said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a consultancy based in San Jose. "Xing is challenging them on that, though. They have the next rung of the ladder. Still, I fully expect Progressive Networks to come back and match them."