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.

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