HITS Daily Double
"We're aggressively moving the Rio brand toward mass-market consumer acceptance."
—S3 CEO Ken Potashner


S3, Rio 600, "M:I-2"—So Many Numbers To Remember
Load the trucks and alert the media. In the brave new world, you can't have a new product without an expansive e-nnouncement.

S3 has shipped the new Rio 600, which it proudly describes as "the highly anticipated and first member of the new family of third-generation Rio handheld digital audio players." Presumably, the term "third-generation" refers to the player's organizational capabilities, which allow the user to sort and edit MP3 and Windows Media files via the bundled Rio Audio Manager 3.3 software. Or perhaps the novelty is the 600's "Future-Proof" memory-expansion capabilities, giving the buyer a choice of "memory Backpacks" ranging in length from one to 10 hours. Or maybe it's that snazzy ergonomic shape and those interchangeable colored faceplates.

"We've worked hard to develop a family of third-generation players where the devices are tailored to fit consumer lifestyles," said Mike Reed, VP Marketing at S3's Rio Division, dabbing the sweat of his labors from his brow with a traditional cotton hanky. "We're no longer asking consumers to adjust to a static technology. With the Rio 600, people can simply download their favorite tunes, push PLAY and enjoy—a particularly appealing benefit for entry-level users who are always on the go."

"This addition to the rapidly growing Rio family will enter distribution channels much more quickly and comprehensively than any digital audio player ever has before," gushed S3 CEO Ken Potashner. "With the Rio 600, as well as Nike and Dell's Rio-based products, we're aggressively moving the Rio brand toward mass-market consumer acceptance. According to Cahners In-Stat Group, demand for digital music players is expected to grow nearly tenfold by 2003, and the Rio brand is clearly the recognized leader in this high-growth market. Of course, either way, I'll be fully vested by then."

In the value-added department, S3 has persuaded Hollywood Records to provide music from the "Mission: Impossible-2" soundtrack on the player, which will list for $169.95.

"We are impressed by the Rio 600's new design and support for secure music formats," said Hollywood Director of Digital Marketing Ken Bunt. "The industry has been waiting patiently for a well-designed, user-friendly player. We are pleased to partner with Rio to provide digital music from our promising new artists. And why not? People are downloading it for free from Gnutella anyway."

While the 600 has been designed to appeal to consumers with "active and trendy lifestyles," the forthcoming Rio 800 will undoubtedly click with more affluent and demanding "technology enthusiasts and business travelers."