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Palm to groove with Liquid Audio music

The handheld maker selects the online music software company to offer some Palm customers a window into secure digital music.

Handheld device maker Palm has tapped online music software and services company Liquid Audio to offer some Palm customers a window into secure digital music.

Palm customers using a Palm m100 or m105 handheld will be able to access Liquid Audio's digital music if they have Shinei's Porteson MP3 player. Liquid Audio said consumers using those devices, along with Liquid Player Plus software, can stream, download, purchase and play back music files.

Liquid Audio on Thursday said that Palm is licensing Liquid Audio's Secure Portable Player technology, which lets hardware developers create digital music devices that will work with the full line of Palm handhelds. In addition, Palm is licensing a customized version of Liquid Audio's Liquid Store that will offer Palm m100 series handheld customers access to a Web site that offers secure digital downloads from an array of artists and genres.

The announcement comes as Liquid Audio continues to beef up its offerings despite facing financial woes. Last month, Liquid Audio launched a new digital audio player, Liquid Player Six, which gives music fans the ability to stream, download, purchase and play digital music as well as rip and burn audio CDs from one application.

Two months before the launch, however, the Redwood City, Calif.-based company made a move to bolster its poor economic outlook by cutting 40 percent of its staff.

Liquid Audio on Thursday reported a second-quarter loss of $14 million, or 62 cents per share, including a restructuring charge, on revenues of $1 million. An analyst had expected a loss of 54 cents per share, according to First Call. That compares with a loss of $7.7 million, or 35 cents per share, on revenues of $3.5 million in the same period in 2000.

Liquid Audio's agreement with Palm "gives us an opportunity to introduce digital music to millions of consumers," Gerry Kearby, chief executive of Liquid Audio, said in a statement. "Now Palm handheld users can carry and organize their lives while enjoying their favorite music."

Palm isn't the first handheld maker to offer digital music. In June, Sony began shipping its second-generation Clie device, the PEG N710C. The $499 device can play both MP3 audio files and those in Sony's digital format, ATRAC 3. In addition, all handhelds using Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system can play MP3 and Windows Media audio files.