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

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.

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