RealNetworks, Siemens join media delivery offerings

RealNetworks will begin selling a product that combines its media delivery software with that of Siemens to mobile operators.

RealNetworks Inc. and Siemens AG have extended their global reseller partnership to sell software that combines their media delivery technologies, the companies announced Tuesday at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes.

Siemens, the German electronics giant, has integrated Helix DNA media technology, the foundation for RealNetwork's products, with its own media delivery software and is offering the combined end-to-end streaming software package to mobile operators, the companies said.

The joint Semens and RealNetworks media delivery software had previous only been available to Vodafone Group PLC, which has been using the combined software since June 2003 to distribute audio and video content to users of its Vodafone Live wireless data service.

RealNetworks already has similar relationships with Nokia Corp. and Sweden's Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson.

According to Lee Joseph, director for RealNetworks Europe, the operators that RealNetworks targets as customers in many cases already have working relationships with companies such as Nokia Corp., Ericsson or Siemens, and by blending its offerings with as many manufacturers as possible, the RealNetworks' product becomes more appealing to operators.

Representatives from Siemens could not immediately be reached for comment.

Last week, RealNetworks announced it had strengthened its relationship with Nokia and will work in partnership with the Espoo, Finland, company to develop media technology including the Helix DNA client media engine. RealNetworks also outlined the changes to it mobile licensing model designed to provide more flexibility to handset manufacturers and allow software components like RealAudio and RealVideo to be licensed separately.

Helix DNA is an open, multiformat platform for digital media creation, delivery and playback. RealNetworks has been reaching out to operators to use Helix as the basis for mobile content such as music, news, sports and entertainment that can then can be streamed across both 2.5G and 3G (third- generation) networks using RealAudio and RealVideo as well as formats that are compliant with 3GPP (3G Partnership Project) specifications.

According to RealNetworks, there are currently about 70 mobile phone operators worldwide that have installed the infrastructure in their networks needed to stream content in RealNetworks' format.

"Last year at 3GSM, there were 27 operators using Helix and the year before that we didn't announce any operators as users," Joseph said. "We want to show that the market is developing quickly and content is beginning to flow over the networks."

RealNetworks said on Tuesday that is it anticipating numerous carriers in Europe, Asia and North America to launch commercial video content services over both 2.5G and 3G networks throughout 2005. Additionally, the company cited estimates from Strategy Analytics Ltd. that in 2009, over 182 million people will use mobile video content services worldwide, generating revenues of just over US$6.64 billion.

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