Avanquest jumps on iPod accessory bandwagon

Avanquest Software is adding fuel to the burgeoning iPod accessory market with the launch of six new software titles.

Avanquest Software is adding fuel to the burgeoning iPod accessory market with the launch of six new software titles designed to provide multimedia editing and content, as well as organizational tools to a growing number of users.

The software applications include the US$49.95 WebPodStudio and the US$29.95 PodPresenter, available in retail stores in North America this week and aimed at the new fifth-generation video iPods. WebPodStudio offers a variety of features that step users through the creation of podcasts, and incorporates RSS support to maintain and create feeds. PodPresenter lets users run iPods as PowerPoint graphics presentation devices.

Other applications in the series are due out in North America over the next few weeks, with worldwide release set for the second quarter. The new suite of applications is theoretically compatible with various MP3 players that support multimedia functions, but Avanquest tested and optimized the applications for the iPod.

"We're targeting iPods since they have the majority of the market," said Ryan Smith, director of product marketing Friday.

Apple shipped more than 14 million iPods during the last quarter of 2005, with sales up 207 percent from the year-ago quarter.

Market researchers put Apple's share of the hard-drive based music device market at about 80 percent, a figure that is not forecast to dip by much more than 5 percent in the near term, noted Bob Lang, president of Avanquest USA.

Avanquest Software, with world headquarters in Paris and U.S. headquarters in Westminster, Colorado, develops software in-house and offers marketing, product support and localization services to developers who want to expand internationally. PodPresenter, for example, was developed by ThinkFree.

Avanquest comprises a worldwide network of subsidiaries and affiliates that offer expertise in local markets and build on relationships with distributors and retailers to offer a one-stop shop of publishing services.

"We're working with retailers to add software to areas of their stores where they typically are putting only the hardware accessories for the iPods," noted Lang. The small developers that Avanquest works with would not have the clout to engage the big retail stores at that level, Lang noted.

Avanquest will be shipping four more iPod applications by the first week of March:

--The US$29.95 iExtend, designed to synchronize and manage personal data, and the $39.95 iPocketBible, developed by Laridian Inc., which provides text and an audio recording of the New Living Translation of the Bible, are compatible with third-generation and above iPods.

-- Aimed at fifth-generation video iPods and priced at US$29.95, the PodMediaCreator is designed to be a media editing center for iPod, while DVD2POD is a DVD and movie file conversion program.

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