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New music box plays into frenzy for MP3s

ZapMedia.com teams with online CD distributor Amplified and music catalog Muze to distribute music and video content in an all-in-one package.

Entertainment technology firm ZapMedia.com has teamed with online CD distributor Amplified and music catalog Muze to distribute music and videos through an all-in-one Net device.

Under the agreements, ZapMedia will offer Muze's music and movie database as well as Amplified's CD and DVD titles.

"This is the next generation of the Internet that's taking shape right now. To date, the Internet really has been a PC-centric world," said ZapMedia president Eric Hartz. "We're not just hardware; we're a whole ecosystem. We are the device, the software and the portal."

The Atlanta, Ga.-based company's device, ZapStation, combines audio and video content. It includes MP3, CD and DVD players; jukeboxes for MP3, CDs and video; Internet radio; email; and Web browsing. Instead of using a PC for Web access, ZapStation can be plugged into a television or stereo and a telephone outlet or digital subscriber line.

The device is priced to sell for $599 at retail stores this fall.

ZapStation also includes ZapMedia Engine software, which accesses the company's portal, and ZapAccess, which lets consumers stream and store media content. ZapMedia is also working with a digital management firm, whose name has not yet been announced, to secure media content.

Analysts said the agreement will strengthen ZapMedia's move to combine music and home entertainment, but the company still needs to expand its distribution.

"It's a step in the right direction to the extent that you could really have an entertainment experience in one location," said CyberDialogue analyst Ed Lopez. "You're going to need to open the distribution channels first before the content can...flow through in each of these appliances."