Phorus, a stealthy 16-person, Los Angeles-based startup, has plans to make sharing music around the various speakers and devices in your home much easier.
“Phorus?” you say. That’s right. It’s a name you’ll want to remember come January.
The startup is announcing $2 million in its first formal round of funding Tuesday, but plans to reveal, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, partnerships with manufacturers, which will bring its PlayCast music playback ecosystem to market.
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“Listening to music should be simple,” said Phorus CEO Dannie Lau in an exclusive interview with VentureBeat. “Today, people can enjoy almost any song they want, anywhere and on any device … but when you get home and you take off the earbuds, some of these things get very complicated,” he added.
“We really started this company to make the whole home audio experience simple and fun,” Lau said.
To that end, Phorus has developed PlayCast, a platform-agnostic wireless technology that will be integrated into speakers and allow end users to stream songs via PC or mobile device over Wi-Fi, and stream to multiple speakers at the same time.
Phorus will face steep competition in the battle to deliver streaming audio around consumers’ homes. For instance, Sonos is planning a holiday season push to make its wireless speaker system front-and-center in consumers’ minds. Apple’s AirPlay technology does something similar, and has the benefit of Apple’s pre-existing brand and retail reach. So what’s the difference?
“AirPlay can only stream to one speaker at a time,” Lau said. “Sonos was a technology created 10 years ago for when Wi-Fi wasn’t working very well,” he explained. “Sonos uses a proprietary wireless system; it’s not based on Wi-Fi. You have to buy, in addition to a Sonos speaker, a Sonos bridge … which makes the overall system quite expensive.”
Phorus, however, won’t be developing or selling its own line of speakers — it’ll leave that job to seasoned manufacturers. So, theoretically, in a few months time you could pick up a reasonably priced home audio system at your neighborhood consumer electronics store and get the added bonus of Wi-Fi streaming via PC or mobile, powered by Phorus’s PlayCast technology.
The startup remains mum about its exact plans for roll out. Lau did say that PlayCast-enabled speakers will come to market in 2012, and that we’ll all hear a lot more about his company at CES in January.
Alas, the startup’s vision for a better home audio experience remains but a dream for the time being.