RealNetworks is announcing two new wireless offerings with Cingular Wireless, bringing more of the Seattle company's Internet expertise...
SAN FRANCISCO — RealNetworks is announcing two new wireless offerings with Cingular Wireless, bringing more of the Seattle company’s Internet expertise to the cellular phone.
The announcements are expected this morning during Chief Executive Rob Glaser’s keynote at the CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment Show, a gathering focused on future cellphone gadgets and products.
The first offering is RealNetworks OnlineTV, a service that will stream TV content to mobile phones. The second is a mobile version of Real Arcade, which will turn a PC-based video game into a mobile application.
Both will be offered by Cingular, the largest U.S. carrier, with more than 50 million subscribers.
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The OnlineTV is particularly notable because it will run on Cingular’s high-speed wireless network, expected out at the end of this year. The technology, referred to by the abbreviations UMTS and HSDPA, can reach the speeds of landline broadband connections.
UMTS and HSDPA are part of technologies that are more commonly known as 3G and 3.5G, respectively, or third-generation wireless networks and beyond.
Although TV on mobile phones is on the market, RealNetworks expects subscribers to have a better experience on the even speedier network.
Mobile TV content today includes such fare as news, sports highlights, clips of “The Daily Show” or segments of live concerts.
Currently, Verizon Wireless offers its VCast TV service, and Sprint has MobiTV.
RealNetworks also has been offering video clips to Sprint and the former AT&T Wireless through its rTV service.
“There are other large players in the space, but they [Cingular] chose us for our expertise in streaming,” said Bill Joll, a vice president of marketing for carrier software solutions at RealNetworks. “I think it will enhance our position in the mobile and broadband space.”
The OnlineTV application will run on the company’s Helix platform. RealNetworks will operate the back end for Cingular, while Cingular will secure relationships directly with content providers.
Those providers in turn will direct their material to RealNetworks, which will edit, manage and host it at its Seattle facilities. From there, it will stream it to subscribers.
“It’s a complete technology solution that enables providers to offer personal interactive TV to consumers,” said John Giamatteo, RealNetworks executive vice president of business products and services and international operations.
Cingular plans to launch the service toward the end of the year but has not said what content will be available.
The RealArcade Mobile store, available to U.S. wireless subscribers for the first time through Cingular, will offer a selection of games every month. The service will be $5.99 for a monthly subscription or $2.49 monthly for an individual title. The RealArcade service launched on O2 in Europe yesterday.
Which service — video or games — is likely to be popular remains to be seen. But research by M:Metrics, a wireless research firm, suggests that games are the bigger market for now. Only 671,437 wireless subscribers in the U.S. accessed streaming video during a monthlong period.
Also yesterday, Microsoft’s Suzan DelBene made it clear what she sees as Microsoft’s competition for devices by taking stabs at Research in Motion’s BlackBerry.
Monday, Chairman Bill Gates announced a partnership with Palm and Verizon Wireless to use the Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system on the new Treo Smartphone, expected out early next year. The phone will have organizer and cellphone functions, and will be able to use Verizon Wireless’ new high-speed EV-DO wireless network for online connections.
DelBene, vice president of Microsoft’s mobile and embedded-devices division, said in a morning keynote presentation that the device and others like it could be a direct threat to BlackBerry, a leader in providing mobile e-mail to corporate customers.
DelBene said Microsoft’s technology was better for three reasons: cost, security and the ability to roll out to thousands of employees. RIM took issue with those claims. “You have to take a look at security issues and then the total cost of ownership,” a spokesperson said.
Separately, Intel announced it is providing chip technology for RIM’s BlackBerry devices. Those devices will also run on the high-speed EDGE wireless network deployed by Cingular.
Sean Maloney, executive vice president and general manager of Intel’s Mobility Group, said Waterloo, Ont.-based RIM has succeeded at making the BlackBerry, “a noun, a verb, a target — as in the ‘BlackBerry killer’ — and gotten it into rap songs. It has a history of creating breakthrough devices.”
Tricia Duryee: 206-464-3283 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Seattle Times technology reporter Kim Peterson contributed to this report from Seattle.