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iPO at CES - Jook Brings Open Approach to "Music Social Networking"
Tuesday, January 8th, 2008 at 12:55 PM - by
LAS VEGAS -- Jook Inc., a subsidiary of gaming mouse maker Razer, announced this week at CES a new approach to the concept of music sharing and social networking with its namesake product, Jook. The product will allow users to share their music with those around them via a proprietary 2.4 GHz wireless transmitter, similar to Microsoft's approach with Zune, but it does so without being tied to any particular platform -- it works with iPod, Zune, Zen, Walkman, etc.
Jook-enabled headphones allow users of any digital media device to share whatever they are currently listening to with other Jook users, or to listen to other nearby Jook users instead. As an open platform, this sharing works between iPod, Zune, Creative Zen, or any other digital media device, as the sharing and listening takes place in the Jook-enabled headphones, not the music player itself. That allows Jook to immediately jump into the market with the hundreds of millions of music players already sold.
Jook headphones with an iPod -- image courtesy of Jook
Jook offers three modes: "Me" would be a normal listening mode, where Jook users are simply minding their own business and listening to their own tunes. "U" means that you are sharing/broadcasting your music for any Jook user within 30 feet to hear, and "Us" mode allows users to listen to anyone in "U" mode.
The Jook pill with the three modes -- image courtesy of Jook
The developers of Jook have taken a fairly passive approach to sharing by making the process very unintrusive. Jook headphones use a color code to indicate which mode you are in. When in "Me" mode, the device is not lit. In "U" mode, it glows red, allowing anyone to see, and when in "Us" mode, it glows green.
The non-intrusive social networking approach is added to by allowing users in "Us" mode to tag any song they hear from another user with the push of a button. Tagging the song not only allows you to find out the artist and name of the song, it also adds any profile information the "U" mode user chose to add to Jook, including profiles from existing social networking sites like Facebook or Myspace.
This information can be accessed once you dock your Jook to your Mac or PC, and it goes both ways. The person who had their song tagged will see a list of everyone that tagged his tunes and any profile information they choose to include in their own Jook.
All of this combines social networking and music sharing, but does so without violating any copyrights -- the music is being broadcast, not traded, but you get the benefit of being able to find out more about anything you actually cared about in the first place.
The makers of Jook are providing this platform in the form of a licensable reference design and chip. Any headphone maker, or even a digital media device maker if they are so inclined, can license Jook. According to developers on hand at CES, this keeps the core competencies where they belong by letting those companies who are really good at making headphones do their thing.
One company has signed on with Jook, but mum's the word on who until Q2 of 2008, when Jook will begin announcing licensees. In Q3 they expect to begin showcasing actual products, which will be released in time for the holiday shopping season. The devices we were shown at CES are handmade prototypes, but they worked as promised.
The developers also said that while final pricing will be completely up to OEM licensees,the cost of many Jook-enabled headphones will likely be about US$15-$20 higher than comparable non-Jook models.
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