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Tech News (more headlines) 01-18-2001

Be Offers Home Audio Reference Platform For Internet-enabled Home Stereo Component

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Website: http://www.be.com/
CES, LAS VEGAS -- Jan. 8, 2001 -- Be Inc. (Nasdaq: BEOS) today announced the release of its Home Audio Reference Platform (HARP) for Internet-enabled home stereo equipment. Designed for consumer electronics companies and home stereo component manufacturers, HARP takes advantage of Be's complete Internet appliance solution, called BeIA. HARP can function as a traditional stereo component to play CDs, tapes and LPs, but can also be used to access and broadcast Internet-based audio and services.

HARP takes advantage of BeIA's rich media handling capabilities to offer an engaging audio experience for consumers. The device works as a home jukebox, encoding and storing audio for easy retrieval and playback. Consumers may use the device to organize and archive an entire household's audio content, from CDs, LPs and tapes to Internet audio including MP3 and other popular streaming formats

HARP uses standard audio connectors to playback on a home stereo and can simultaneously stream different music and audio content to any networked device in the home. With devices based on HARP, consumers can immediately play their existing CDs, LPs and tapes and add available Internet-based subscription services. The device brings a new dimension to the music experience by connecting consumers with additional information about music or a performing artist such as photographs, fan clubs and concert dates. And, since HARP stores music digitally, consumers can easily catalog and search their audio collection.

"History has shown that music is an attractive and compelling application that consumers are drawn to," says Bryan Ma, an analyst in IDC's Consumer Devices research program. "We expect that consumption of digital media will be one of the key drivers of growth in the development of devices for the connected home," he adds. IDC projects that over 10 million compressed digital audio players will ship in the US in 2003.

"The beauty of HARP is that it is highly modular and can be managed remotely, without user intervention. HARP can grow to support new and emerging technologies and audio formats so that a user may never outgrow a BeIA HARP-based device," says Lamar Potts, vice president of marketing for Be.

HARP's three major functions are:
- Acquire audio:
HARP can acquire audio from CDs, tapes, LPs, handheld MP3 players, and Internet sources (AIF, Wav, MP3, RealAudio, etc.). It can stream Internet radio and popular Web formats. HARP links with Internet content services to deliver audio and subscription-based services for news and other non-music audio content.

- Organizing audio:
HARP automatically acquires and stores music tracks and related information such as the artist's name, album title and artwork. Consumers can search and sort based on more than one criteria at a time -- such as track name, artist, owner, genre and user-based labels. People can easily customize playlists and build themed libraries -- such as jazz and hip-hop.

- Experience audio:
Consumers can use HARP to play audio content on a single device or from multiple networked devices such as handheld MP3 payers and CD burners. HARP lets users customize music, adding effects such as reverb and ambience. They can also post visuals on a TV screen or create a home karaoke device by displaying song lyrics.

The HARP design is modular, allowing device providers to choose the components and capabilities they want to offer consumers in a branded, differentiated home stereo component. HARP contains Be's complete Internet appliance solution, including the BeIA Client Platform, the BeIA Management and Administration Platform (MAP) and BeIA Integration Services. It also includes relevant applications and third-party plug-ins.

Once an appliance is deployed, MAP lets device providers maintain the appliance for end users--without any end-user intervention. Appliance providers can change, update or augment any element of the device remotely, without user intervention, as new services and formats come into fashion. For example, if a new audio compression similar to MP3 becomes popular, MP3 a vendor can enable a HARP-based device to support the new format automatically.

HARP will be available for consumer electronics companies and home stereo component manufacturers to develop branded devices in Q2.

About Be
Founded in 1990, Be Inc. creates software solutions that enable rich media and Web experiences on personal computers and Internet appliances. Be's headquarters are in Menlo Park, Calif., and its European office is in Paris, France. It is publicly traded on the Nasdaq National Market under the symbol BEOS. Be can be found on the Web at http://www.be.com.

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