RealNetworks Dials Vodafone for Helix

Digital media software giant RealNetworks on Monday
announced its Helix Mobile
technology would power the delivery of mobile content to Vodafone’s 112 million cell phone subscribers, a deal that provides some
breathing room in RealNetworks’ battle with arch-rival Microsoft.

Financial terms of the deal were not released. RealNetworks said its
Helix Universal Mobile Server and Helix Universal Mobile Gateway
technologies would be used to transmit real-time audio and video (in
RealAudio and RealVideo formats) to millions of Vodafone subscribers
throughout Europe.

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

More importantly for RealNetworks, it lands a crucial telecommunications
partner for the rollout of its digital media mobile offerings at a time when
the company is locked in a dogfight with cross-town rivals Microsoft , which markets its own proprietary Windows Media 9 Series.

RealNetworks has similar deals with Ericsson and
Nokia to combine the Helix audio and video broadcasting
software with mobile products. 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.

RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser described the Vodafone pact as a “powerful
endorsement” of the company’s technical and business approach to the mobile

That approach builds on an open-source
strategy adopted by RealNetworks to enable the delivery of digital
media in a variety of formats, including competing formats like MPEG-4,
Apple’s QuickTime and even Microsoft’s Windows Media.

The latest news comes just weeks after the launch of
the RealOne Mobile Guide
, which delivers news, sports and other audio,
music and video clips to cell phone and wireless devices.

That service was set up to work on Nokia’s 3650 and, in the future, it
would also deliver media to PocketPC and other wireless devices.

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