RealTime IT News

RealNetworks Melds Audio, Video Platforms

While the online music platform MusicNet is being primed for a highly-anticipated fall delivery, one of its technology providers, RealNetworks Inc., isn't forgetting the advancement of its own software enhancement track.

The Seattle firm unleashed a new platform Monday that fuses its popular RealPlayer and RealJukebox video and audio applications into one integrated media player.

Dubbed RealOne, the platform marks a departure from the company's previous stance of claiming that people want to access audio and video separately on the Web. Apparently, RealNetworks' has become convinced that the eventual proliferation of broadband in households will drive interest in a more unified Web media experience. In fact, Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Media, the default arch-nemesis of RealNetworks' media products, already fuses the two.

RealOne is essentially a browser, with the video player on the top left, audio to the right, and a browser window at the bottom through which users may access the Web. Its key feature is perhaps that it enables the playback of any media format, including those of its rivals and MP3s.

Not surprisingly then, over 150 content providers and technology partners have already endorsed RealOne.

In a company statement that echoed RealNetworks' position on the MusicNet initiative, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rob Glaser, said the platform will help partners "create a new generation of digital media businesses."

"By combining the many ways that people enjoy and interact with digital media, and by steering use of the Internet toward integrated, compelling audio-visual content, RealOne Platform will fundamentally change how consumers and creators of content will relate," Glaser.

RealNetworks' play Monday is as much a stab at innovation within as it is at staying ahead of Microsoft, which has been steadily tacking on more home consumers for Windows Media. Trend watcher Jupiter Media Metrix recently pegged Windows Media home users at about 24.7 million, with 24.4 million people using RealNetworks' RealPlayer. There is a reason as to why the companies' media apps are so close in consumer market share; many people with PCs use both players for variety.

A developer preview of RealOne Platform is available for download here and sometime within the next two months, the company will launch RealOne Service, an expanded version of its GoldPass media subscription service, which has recently shot past 400,000 paid subscribers in just over a year. For $9.95 per month, RealOne Service will offer a range of premium content and services, including downloadable and streaming major label music from MusicNet.