RealTime IT News

RealNetworks Dials Vodafone for Helix

Digital media software giant RealNetworks on Monday announced its Helix Mobile technology would power the delivery of mobile content to Vodafone's 112 million cell phone subscribers, a deal that provides some breathing room in RealNetworks' battle with arch-rival Microsoft.

Financial terms of the deal were not released. RealNetworks said its Helix Universal Mobile Server and Helix Universal Mobile Gateway technologies would be used to transmit real-time audio and video (in RealAudio and RealVideo formats) to millions of Vodafone subscribers throughout Europe.

The deal involves other elements of the Helix software -- including media download, asset management technologies and the RealOne Mobile Player for mobile devices.

More importantly for RealNetworks, it lands a crucial telecommunications partner for the rollout of its digital media mobile offerings at a time when the company is locked in a dogfight with cross-town rivals Microsoft , which markets its own proprietary Windows Media 9 Series.

RealNetworks has similar deals with Ericsson and Nokia to combine the Helix audio and video broadcasting software with mobile products. Because mobile phone manufacturers are wary of Microsoft's entry into the wireless OS market, companies like Nokia and Ericsson have made it a point to embrace RealNetworks and freeze Microsoft out of their product offerings.

RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser described the Vodafone pact as a "powerful endorsement" of the company's technical and business approach to the mobile market.

That approach builds on an open-source Helix strategy adopted by RealNetworks to enable the delivery of digital media in a variety of formats, including competing formats like MPEG-4, Apple's QuickTime and even Microsoft's Windows Media.

The latest news comes just weeks after the launch of the RealOne Mobile Guide, which delivers news, sports and other audio, music and video clips to cell phone and wireless devices.

That service was set up to work on Nokia's 3650 and, in the future, it would also deliver media to PocketPC and other wireless devices.