By: Karim Mostafa Launches Personalized Audio Service

Just when you thought you couldn’t squeeze another thing onto your computer desktop, introduces an online feature that can keep you listening to personalized

audio news throughout the day.

After incubating for the past year at San Francisco’s Women’s Technology Center (the same

one Hillary Clinton visited last week), launched a beta version of its

personalized news service at Internet World in Los Angeles this week.

Along with its debut comes an impressive list of partners, including,,

The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition, The Associated Press,,, and

What have all these news organizations signed up for? Essentially, is

offering to distribute their content in audio form. Particularly appealing is

AudioBasket’s ability to search audio content and gather into one location all broadcasts

covering any particular subject — for example, the oil industry.

For now, the content providers are handling the conversion of their own print materials

to audio. Then distributes the material to other Web sites. The company

plans to eventually build a recording studio to handle the print-to-audio conversion, but

for now, the participating content providers have been happy to handle the task, says

AudioBasket CEO Kim Fisher.

Consumers can download the audio content for free to a personal computer, wireless phone,

personal digital assistant, or an MP3 player. ‘You can wake up in the morning and have

all the content you need already downloaded to your MP3 player,’ Fisher says.

On the distribution end, Fisher doesn’t think many news sites will sign up for the

service. But she expects non-news sites such as to sign up so their users can

get more audio news on a particular topic and listen to it later.

For content producers, not only distributes the content, but also

aggregates general data on listening habits. In light of privacy concerns, Fisher stresses that data on individual consumers will not be provided to the affiliates. will create its own detailed profiles on users’ listening habits and use

that information internally to target advertising, the site’s main source of income. For

each hour of content selected, there will be six minutes of advertising. Ads will appear

between clips from differing sources, but never in the middle of a broadcast.

Founded in May 1999, has expanded to 40 employees and is moving out on

its own after a year at the Women’s Technology Center. The company is in the midst of

securing financing for future growth.


Karim Mostafa ( is assistant editor for

Editor & Publisher Online.

(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher

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