Latest WiFi speaker to assault home radio … wait, it IS a radio

Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 12:40pm

This is the season of wireless speakers. We have written recently about the Samsung Shape, the Bose SoundTouch, and the Sonos Play:1. Each one of these WiFi-enabled speakers can stream a music collection from a computer, and access whatever online music services are bundled into the controller apps. This product category clearly seeks to displace home radio receivers, just as online music services potentially bite into AM/FM listening generally.

A new, soon-to-be-released product from Revo, a Scottish audio device company founded in 2004, modifies that trend with a tabletop unit which combines over-the-air broadcast with Internet radio and music-service streaming. Mightily called the SuperConnect, it is a real radio with an FM tuner (accommodating DAB and DAB+), mashed together with WiFi streaming

Uniquely, the SuperConnect has baked-in Spotify Connect compatibility. Spotify Connect is a wireless flinging technology similar to Google’s Chromecast. It is designed for digital speaker systems to receive a Spotify stream playing on a smartphone. The user touches a Connect icon in the Spotify app, then selects which Connect-enabled reception device (like living room speakers) will pick up the stream. As of now, SuperConnect is the only radio receiver that works with Spotify Connect.

In addition to the unprecedented bundling of FM, WiFi, and Spotify Connect, the Revo SuperConnect contains an on-screen joystick controller that encourages the user to explore the far-flung universe of radio webcasts -- becoming the latest in a history of devices attempting to install borderless radio listening in the home. In this case, that function is not the main act, but an add-on to the main category of WiFi streaming, with a pioneering implementation of Spotify Connect.

TuneIn on Samsung Shape: reinventing radio and consumer behavior

Monday, October 7, 2013 - 10:15am

Samsung, whose products increasingly foster the untethered lifestyle, has come out with a wireless home sound system called Shape. It is so-called because the shape of Shape is … shapely. Most reviews compare Shape to Sonos, which, while nicely shaped in its own right, similarly streams Internet radio and locally stored music throughout a home. Both systems hook into the home’s WiFi, are controlled by smartphone apps, and can multitask -- which means different rooms can hear different streams, playlists, albums, etc..

The smartphone app which serves as the remote control for Shape comes with a few services pre-installed: Pandora, Rhapsody, and TuneIn. Those selections niftily cover a wide service spectrum: Pandora for pureplay Internet radio; Rhapsody for subscription-only interactive music collection; and TuneIn for aggregated terrestrial radio stations.

That last point is the most interesting -- in a device that resembles radio, and is meant to replace the radio set as a household appliance, AM/FM is represented by a digital streaming platform.

As such, Shape (and Sonos, which also makes TuneIn easily accessible), position AM/FM in the life of a mobile-centric, lean-in consumer. Shape and Sonos are receivers of a sort, but the received medium is an Internet signal over WiFi, enabling a incongruent mix of formats: downloaded songs stored on a computer (or in Amazon’s cloud service in the case of Sonos), playlists maintained on a discovery service (Rhapsody), IP-delivered AM/FM webcasts, and -- crucially -- time-shifted radio programming (both on TuneIn).

Shape and Sonos encourage users, and force programmers, to think of consumable content as liberated from rigid delivery formats and schedules. Audio is granularized and liquified. In one RAIN household, TuneIn is used primarily to hear NPR program podcasts, detached from the original broadcast schedule. That use is gradually displacing radio sets.

Products like Shape, when paired with new content platforms like TuneIn, strive to reinvent not only technology (in this case radio), but also consumer behavior, while preserving content programming, and even improving access to it.

Samsung and Nokia both stepping up their mobile music services

Monday, January 28, 2013 - 1:30pm

Samsung is reportedly planning to expand access to its cloud-based Music Hub service to its platform competitors' customers. Meanwhile, Nokia is launching a new premium version of its Nokia Music service for only $3.99 a month in the U.S.

Samsung's "Music Hub is a cloud-based service combining a user's own library with Spotify-style streaming, radio and discovery features. It’s essentially a rival to traditional music stores, online radio, streaming services and cloud locker services all in one package," explains The Next Web.

Nokia's "Music+ will be an ad-free service that lets users skip as many songs as they like rather than being limited to 6 skips per hour. Subscribers will be able to listen to Nokia Mix Radio and add songs to playlists, mark them as favorites, or save playlists to download songs," reports

More from The Next Web on Samsung is here; more from MobileBurn on Nokia+ is here.

Samsung launches its streaming music service, complete with Pandora-like radio, in the U.S.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - 2:00pm

Samsung Music HubAs rumored earlier this month (RAIN coverage here), Samsung has launched its Music Hub streaming music service in the U.S. The new service "wraps iTunes, Spotify and Pandora into one great package," explains Boy Genius Report's Zach Epstein.

He continues, "Like iTunes, Music Hub allows users to purchase tracks and download them or store them in the cloud for streaming [powered by 7digital]; like Spotify, Music Hub can stream an unlimited amount of on-demand music to smartphones or computers; and like Pandora, Samsung’s new service offers custom radio stations that provide endless streaming and help users discover new music."

Users will have to pay $10 per month to use Music Hub's streaming radio and on-demand features. "Samsung hopes consumers will find the whole package to be cheaper than subscribing to separate services like Pandora and Spotify," writes The Verge. Initially, the mobile service will only be available on Samsung's Galaxy S III Android smartphone devices. 

Though Music Hub isn't as focused as Pandora, Epstein says overall, "I’m impressed."

Boy Genius Report has more coverage here, as does The Verge here.

Samsung to launch on-demand service Music Hub, including custom online stations, in U.S.

Friday, July 20, 2012 - 12:15pm

News broke yesterday that electronics giant Samsung will launch its own on-demand music service in the U.S. in the coming weeks.

The service, called Music Hub, boasts a library of 15 million tracks, and includes the (ever-more-popular among on-demand services) custom radio stations. Music Hub will also include a "storage locker" feature a la Google Music and MP3Tunes, and a download store.

The Los Angeles Times reports the service will only be available on Samsung's Galaxy S III smartphones, at least for now. Samsung won't reveal what they'll charge in the U.S., but the service already operates in the UK, France, Germany, and Spain, where it's 9.99 GBP/9.99 EUR.

Read more in The L.A. Times here.

New Samsung streaming music service includes customizable and curated radio stations

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - 11:10am

Samsung Music HubSamsung today unveiled its new music streaming service, Music Hub, in several European markets. The service was first announced together with Samsung's new flagship Android Galaxy S III smartphone and aims to be a "holistic" service (with access via mobile, web browsers, TVs and even refriderators).

The main attraction, as it were, is on-demand music access and cloud-based storage of local tunes. Users can "match" their local music with cloud versions for free (like iTunes Match). But a paid version (about $16 per month) opens access to an on-demand library of 19 million tracks from 7Digital.

In addition to the on-demand offerings, Music Hub's paid service includes streaming radio stations. Users can reportedly create customizable stations based on artists or tracks, or listen to genre-based streams "hand-crafted by the Music Hub team." The service is likely to land in the U.S. along with the Galaxy S III soon. 

Engadget has more coverage here, as does Mashable here. Find Music Hub's homepage here.

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