RealTime IT News

Software Powers Gird for Trade Show Battle

The technology trade show circuit hits New York City next week with Penton Media's Internet World Fall and Streaming Media East 2002 shaping up as a place where the next chapter of the digital media battle will be played out.

The event, scheduled for September 30 through October 3 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, might not be as busy as previous years but analysts are already expecting the shows to provide a detailed glimpse of the digital media "catfight" between heavyweights Microsoft and RealNetworks .

"The big and loud news (from the show) will be the on-going catfight between Microsoft and Real for the war to control the media platform that hundreds of millions of people will be using in the years to come," said Yankee Group analyst Paul Ritter.

Indeed, executives from Microsoft and Real are scheduled to deliver keynotes at the conferences and many expect jazzy presentations of the major competing products -- Redmond's Win dows Media 9 Series and Real's Helix.

"I expect the show to be interesting but not revolutionary in what will be presented. The range of companies is all over the map, with firms like ranging from AccuWeather, to HotJobs, Microsoft to The New York Times, Penn State, to Raytheon, it will really be a mixed bag," Ritter said.

The key players always use these conventions to launch new initiatives and, while nothing major is expected, RealNetworks' Kevin Foreman hinted that a slew of announcements with enterprise clients using Helix would be made at the Streaming Media East segment of the show.

Foreman, general manager of the Helix DNA playback engine, said half of Real's booth would be dedicated to showing off the capabilities of the Helix initiative which was launched in July to allow the piping of audio and video in a range of formats -- including Microsoft's Windows Media.

"We'll spend a lot of time showcasing Helix on the East Coast for the first time. This is a big showcase opportunity for everything surrounding helix," Foreman told internetnews.com.

Microsoft could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg agreed that enterprise-focused streaming software would take center stage. "A lot of the focus will be about whether the current technologies recently released will revive the market for streaming video," he said.

Gartenberg believes the intense competition between RealNetworks, Microsoft and Apple "has renewed interest in opportunities for Internet video-on-demand" and he expects next week's show to generate some interest.

RealNetworks' Foreman declined specifics of forthcoming announcements but hinted strongly that enterprise clients jumping on the Helix bandwagon will be there to showcase their products.

"(With Helix), we have our fingers in lots of pots and you'll see a bunch of announcements, especially on the enterprise end," he said.

Yankee Group's Ritter believes a lot of smaller players will make noise with new products to help certain sectors or niche markets.

"I will be looking for the next big thing that will revolutionize the way enterprises conduct business and that will drastically improve their bottom line profits. I believe there are several firms in the streaming media space that have new platforms and software that have the potential to do this," he added.

A glance at the keynote line-up also gave hints that the 3G wireless and media space will come into focus at the Internet World segment. Sprint chief executive William Esrey is on tap and he is expected to detail the company's wireless plans in a tough telecommunications environment.

It will also be a big show for America Online with new CEO Jon Miller expected to discuss the media giant's plan to survive an extended ad market shakeout. Miller runs the American Online service as well as the company's Web Properties group that include Netscape, CompuServe, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), ICQ and MapQuest.