Pedigreed startup developing Wi-Fi player

Some might say that you listen to the Zune you have, not the Zune you want. However, a San Diego startup named Broadband International is working on building the Zune we want -- or, rather, the player many of us hoped the Zune would be.

You might say that Broadband had portable digital audio in its blood, as it was founded by Jim Cady (former president of Rio Digital Audio), Dennis Mudd (former CEO of Musicmatch) and Jonathan Sasse (former CEO of iRiver America), and as such they plan to use their extensive experience to create something that's genuinely innovative. It seems that their device will center around wireless capability; though short on details, the company has said that "traditional USB connections will (only) play a minor role in getting content to your device."

Wi-Fi will also play a role in acquiring music over the air without needing a computer, and it's also expected that there will be some sort of music-sharing scheme -- though how it will improve on the Zune without incurring the wrath of the RIAA remains to be seen.

Whatever the case, the fact remains that Microsoft was the first major company that had a chance to expand on the idea of a wireless music player with the Zune and blew it. While it's always possible that a firmware update will unlock features we have yet to see (or, I suppose, hear) other companies are capitalizing on the notion of wireless music and looking at more exciting possibilities right out of the gate. Details on the Broadband player will be firming up over the next two months as it nears its first release; let's see what they (and Microsoft and Apple) come up with in the meantime.

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Emru Townsend

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