Bits & Bytes
PLAYER WITHOUT A BAND? LOG ON, DUDE
AT THIS MOMENT, A GROUP OF jazz and pop musicians is gathered in a studio, laying down a funky beat and improvisational riffs. What's new about that? In this jam, the players are thousands of miles apart, and the studio exists only in cyberspace.
Some 15,000 professional and amateur musicians have signed up with www. resrocket.com, a virtual music studio that bills itself as "the biggest band in the world." Playing electronic instruments that use the MIDI (that's Musical Instruments Digital Interface) standard, they can jam 24 hours a day on the Internet site run by San Francisco-based ResRocket Inc.
The company has compiled some collaborations onto a CD scheduled for sale in January. A sample: eJam, an instrumental by a drummer in San Francisco, an organist in Paris, a horn player in Hull, Britain, and a jazz pianist in Chicago.
To listen to ResRocket music, you need Macromedia Inc.'s Shockwave media player. Joining a session requires downloading free ResRocket software. Public jams are free, or you can rent a private studio for $100 per year, which is how ResRocket makes money. In January, ResRocket will upgrade its software to add digital audio and voice. So log on, and start jamming.EDITED BY IRA SAGERReturn to top
FASHION PLATES NIP AT THE NET
SOME PEOPLE LIKE TO GO OUT AND SHOP 'til they drop. But growing numbers are content to park themselves in front of a computer and find their clothes on the Internet. In the past six months, there has been a sharp increase in the number of people seeking a fashion statement online, says market researcher @plan. In a recent study, @plan found that 10% of an estimated 48 million cybercruisers over 18 years old window-shopped online for apparel. That's a 67% increase from the previous six months.
Don't rush to open a virtual clothing boutique, however. Fewer than half of those shoppers actually bought anything online. Still, the demographics are encouraging for retailers, says Mark Wright, @plan's CEO: "This is an upscale, affluent audience that traditionally made heavy use of catalogs."
Convenience is the chief motivation for shopping online, according to 45% of consumers surveyed by Forrester Research Inc. And there's plenty to choose from: Forrester identified 50,000 online retail merchants selling all types of goods in 1998, up from only 500 in 1996. In apparel, big names such as Eddie Bauer, Lands' End, L.L. Bean, and Nike dominate the Web. Now, if they could just figure out a way to deliver cappuccino to weary Web shoppers.EDITED BY IRA SAGERReturn to top
Who Buys Clothes Online
COLLEGE GRAD 75%
INCOME $75K+ 47
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A SOUPED-UP VCR WITHOUT THE TAPE
FORGET INTERACTIVE TV. Rather than send E-mail or buy cubic zirconia online, couch potatoes want something simpler: the ability to view their favorite shows whenever they turn on the tube.
That's the rationale behind Replay Networks Inc.'s ReplayTV, a souped-up VCR for the Information Age. A set-top box linked to the Internet via modem, it scans online TV listings and digitally stores programs. Tell it to get shows on cooking or San Diego Padres games, and those programs will be stored in special "Replay Channels." And since the unit stores programs as you watch, viewers can hit the pause button even during live broadcasts, leave the room, and not miss a minute of the show. Due out in November, ReplayTV can store up to 30 hours of programming, although the base unit that can record just seven hours will cost a hefty $995. Too steep? Wait until next year when rival TiVo, another Silicon Valley startup, unveils a similar sub-$500 set-top box and a service for a monthly fee.EDITED BY IRA SAGERReturn to top