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The rocketing rise of SoundHound

The music-iden­ti­fi­ca­tion busi­ness sud­den­ly has an heir-appar­ent, as rel­a­tive new­com­er Sound­Hound has made a giant stride toward the throne cur­rent­ly occu­pied by Shazam.

In news that will grab the atten­tion of every dis­cern­ing busi­ness devel­op­ment asso­ciate, chief rev­enue offi­cer and chief tech­nol­o­gy offi­cer, Sound­Hound — long regard­ed as Shazam’s much younger cousin ‑has announced that its app usage has just crossed the 100 mil­lion mark.  This came three days after Shaz­am announced, in a blaze of pub­lic­i­ty, that its app was now being used by 250 mil­lion peo­ple. Con­sid­er­ing that Sound­Hound users num­bered just 2 mil­lion in 2010, this is some mean feat.

A stratos­pher­ic rise

While both fig­ures are remark­able (Shazam’s app is now being used on 30 per­cent of the 900 mil­lion acti­vat­ed Android and iOS devices), SoundHound’s rise does seem the more spec­tac­u­lar.  Appear­ing in 2005, six year’s after Shaz­am, its first five years brought dis­tinct­ly under­whelm­ing growth. But since a re-brand in 2010, it has sky­rock­et­ed – all with­out the use of expen­sive TV part­ner­ships and with a staff group com­pris­ing just 32 peo­ple at the start of 2012.

It’s the tech­nol­o­gy, stupid

So, what’s the secret of SoundHound’s suc­cess? In a word: tech­nol­o­gy.  In the dig­i­tal age, get­ting the tech­nol­o­gy right can make the dif­fer­ence between suc­cess and fail­ure.  One of the key rea­sons behind Facebook’s plum­met­ing over­all val­ue lies in its stut­ter­ing efforts to devel­op effec­tive mobile tech­nol­o­gy for mil­lions of users who want to access their social net­work­ing site on the hoof.  Sim­i­lar­ly, the eye-water­ing 60 per­cent nose­dive in mar­ket val­ue expe­ri­enced by Dell and HP can large­ly be attrib­uted to their fail­ure to keep abreast of the lat­est tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tions, from hand-held touch-screen gad­gets to cloud computing.

Sound­Hound is prov­ing itself superla­tive­ly savvy in its embrace of cut­ting-edge tech­nol­o­gy.  Its unique “Sound2Sound” tech­nol­o­gy doesn’t rely on tra­di­tion­al sound-to-text tech­niques to match music to; it employs sound-to-sound tech­niques instead, enabling users to sim­ply sing the song they want to iden­ti­fy into their smart­phones and be guar­an­teed an accu­rate result.  And the com­pa­ny owns all the tech­nol­o­gy pow­er­ing its apps.  It may be a good way behind Shaz­am right now, but future great­ness seems well with­in its grasp.

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