RealTime IT News

Real to Bring MPEG-4 to Mobile Gadgets

Tweaking its solid partnership with multimedia encoder maker Envivio, Seattle's RealNetworks Tuesday said the two companies will now work together to develop a mobile media encoder for the wireless sector.

RealNetworks has been busy molding its software to run on cell phones and personal digital assistants in the past year or two, and Tuesday's news is an extension of its interest in bringing multimedia experiences to mobile devices.

The outfits said the Helix Mobile Producer, powered by an encoder crafted by San Francisco's Envivio, will provide content creators a single encoder for 3GPP, 3GPP2 and RealAudio and RealVideo content. The tool provides live and on-demand encoding tailored to fit the petite frame sizes of cell phones and PDAs, and includes support for such file formats as MPEG-4, AAC, N-AMR and H.263.

Envivio and RealNetworks will market and sell the co-branded product to mobile carriers and content providers worldwide. Delivery of Helix Mobile Producer is expected in the first quarter 2003.

The news marks an early tool created with the ballyhooed Helix platform, some of whose code was released for developers' eyes last week. RealNetworks' family of products for the mobile market include Helix Universal Server-Mobile, Helix Universal Gateway-Mobile, Helix Producer and the RealOne Mobile Player.

Envivio benefits from broader exposure of its encoder through RealNetworks broad distribution base, while the Microsoft rival Real would love to get content providers and wireless carriers to pipe MPEG-4 digital feeds over high-end gadgets that support such compressed multimedia.

To be sure, phone makers are scrambling to deliver devices that support multimedia messaging (MMS), video clips, as well as those that take pictures and accommodate more sophisticated games. Just yesterday, Nokia, whom RealNetworks enjoys a cozy relationship with, unveiled seven new phones, including one that doubles as a game console, at its Mobile Internet Conference in Munich, Germany.