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RealTime IT News

RealNetworks Refines Media Software

Online broadcasts without hiccups? RealNetworks Inc. is gunning for it. The Seattle firm picked up where it left off with improvements to its video and audio software Wednesday at the Streaming Media West show in Los Angeles with upgraded products that it claims saves 30 percent more bandwidth than previous versions.

RealNetworks' revamped software applications, RealVideo 9 and RealAudio Surround, are geared to offer consumers "broadcast quality video to broadband users and a subscription quality video experience to dialup users."

The software outfit's goal is to offer entertainment lovers a digital experience not unlike that found in home theatre systems, but one that takes up much less space -- a small fraction of the storage space used by DVD. RealAudio Surround makes multi-channel surround sound starting at 44 Kbps. RealNetworks hopes its new software, combined with the RealOne Player and corresponding subscription services, will be even more attractive to consumers.

As far as specific improvements, broadband users can view VHS-quality content starting at 160 Kbps. Those with home theater capability benefit from close to DVD-quality video and surround sound audio at 500 Kbps. As far as storage, two full-length movies can now be stored on a CD and up to fifteen full-length movies will fit on a DVD.

Content providers such as FoxSports.com, Maverick Records, and New Line Cinema have RealVideo 9 content available for consumers immediately.

A showcase of RealVideo 9 content is available here. RealVideo 9 will be available for the RealOne Player for Unix and RealPlayer for PocketPC within 30 days.

RealNetworks made noise on other fronts at the SMW show. After numerous affronts by pro-MPEG-4 parties who decry proprietary digital media software, the company launched a commercial MPEG-4 interoperability site powered by its RealSystem Servers.

The site allows MPEG-4 encoder and player developers and suppliers to verify early prototypes and products. The move also means RealNetworks has joined the MPEG-4 Industry Forum.

The move met with approval of one for whom MPEG-4 is especially important to, Apple Computer Inc. , whose QuickTime Player drives the MPEG-4 standard.

"Apple is excited that RealNetworks has joined the MPEG-4 Industry Forum and will work to help further the adoption of the MPEG-4 open standard," said Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "With streaming media leaders like Apple and RealNetworks working together to provide true interoperability with MPEG-4, customers and content providers will be the winners."

RealNetworks' hug of MPEG-4 makes Microsoft Corp.'s hesitance to embrace the standard seem conspicuous. Microsoft is the only other dominant proprietary digital media application maker who hasn't taken a demonstrative interest in fomenting MPEG-4 interoperability.

In the corporate sector, RealNetworks Wednesday also unveiled a Corporate Communications Solution and Sales Training Solution, including a new desktop player and configuration applications, authoring tools, media delivery software, integration services and outsourcing services. Boeing Corp., MFS Investment Management, MasterCard, Oracle, and the US Army are those the outfit counts among its customers.

Information about RealNetworks' enterprise tools is available here.