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SanDisk Partners With Yahoo On Wi-Fi MP3 Player

The partnership lets you listen to Launchcast Internet radio, browse Flickr photos, and send instant messages using Yahoo Messenger.

SanDisk on Monday released its $250 Sansa Connect, a new Wi-Fi-capable portable MP3 player featuring both free and subscription music service from Yahoo Music.

As if to make clear how far SanDisk has to go to move up from its current position as the second-largest seller of MP3 players in the United States, Apple Monday said that it had sold 100 million iPods since the product debuted in November 2001. Apple holds about 73% of the U.S. market for portable digital music players, while SanDisk holds about 9%, according to market research firm NPD. Some suggest Apple's iPod market share is even higher.

Even so, SanDisk's latest device may be the right device at the right time. With British music company EMI committed to offering its catalog of songs without digital locks, the digital music and digital music device markets may see an influx of customers willing to look beyond the Apple standard. And at the moment, Apple doesn't have an iPod with Wi-Fi connectivity.

Sansa owners with a Yahoo ID will be able to listen to Launchcast Internet radio, browse Flickr photos, and send instant messages using Yahoo Messenger. Those with Yahoo Music Unlimited To Go subscriptions ($12 per month) will be able to download (but not burn to CD) as many songs as their respective time and Internet service provider's bandwidth allowances permit. Yahoo's music subscription service isn't available to Mac users.

In answer to critics who might be tempted to complain about paying $12 a month, Ian Rogers on the Yahoo Music blog said the fee represented just compensation for the music industry.

"Labels and artists get paid for every radio play and every Yahoo Music download to the Sansa Connect, whereas we all know iPods are mostly full of not-paid-for MP3s," he wrote. "At Yahoo we would like to help maintain a healthy music business, compensating labels and artists at a fair price to consumers."

The Sansa Connect has an internal speaker and 4-Gbytes of Flash memory. Its storage capacity can be expanded using a microSD card in the built-in slot. The device supports a variety of digital audio formats such as MP3 and Windows Media Audio. In addition to Yahoo's music service, the device works with Microsoft PlaysForSure subscriptions.

Available now in the U.S., the Sansa Connect is scheduled for release in Canada later this year.

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