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RealTime IT News

Real's Helix Heads to Nordic Region

RealNetworks' push into the mobile content delivery market received a shot in the arm Monday with the announcement of a deal with Sweden's TeliaSonera that puts the Helix mobile platform in a crucial European market.

The Seattle-based digital media firm said TeliaSonera would use the Helix mobile platform to power streaming delivery of audio and video content to GPRS and 3G cell phone subscribers in Finland and Sweden.

Financial terms of the deal were not released.

For RealNetworks, the TeliaSonera pact adds another big-name carrier to its roster of clients for the Helix platform and provides some breathing room in the company's battle with arch-rival Microsoft .

TeliaSonera (formerly Telia) serves a huge chunk of the Nordic and Baltic markets and counts about 11 million mobile phone subscribers. The company, which is owned by the governments of Sweden and Finland, will now use the multi-format Helix delivery platform to shuttle live and on-demand content to cell phones.

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

The TeliaSonera pact comes on the heels of a similar partnership with U.K.-based Vodafone. RealNetworks has also scored deals with heavyweight mobile carriers like Ericsson and Nokia .

But, even more significant for RealNetworks, these telecommunications partnerships gives it a leg up on cross-town rival Microsoft, which markets its own proprietary Windows Media 9 Series offering similar streaming media delivery services.

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.

According to RealNetworks general manager of mobile products and services Lee Joseph, the Helix platform was an "automatic choice" for TeliaSonera. In a statement, he said the platform's support for both standard 3GPP compliant formats as well as the proprietary RealAudio and RealVideo codecs made the choice easy for the Nordic telco. "With the addition of streaming live and on-demand multimedia content services to their mobile offering, TeliaSonera mobile customers will be among the first in Europe to have mobile multimedia content services directly on their mobile devices," Joseph added.

RealNetworks has aggressively pursued the mobile market as part of its open-source Helix strategy, which allows the delivery of content in a variety of formats, including competing formats like Windows Media Player, MPEG-4 and Apple's QuickTime.

The company also markets the RealOne Mobile Guide, a service which delivers news, sports and other audio, music and video clips to cell phone and wireless devices. The Mobile Guide works on Nokia's 3650 phone and RealNetworks plans to port it to PocketPC and other wireless devices in the future.