Partnership combines offerings, offers end-to-end streaming solutions
Sorenson Media today announced a strategic partnership with RealNetworks to provide a complete solution to encode, manage and deliver online video content. The partnership offers jointly-bundled products as well as single-purchase capability from either vendor, and the two companies are actively exploring further integration and collaborative development of new offerings.
Another 80 people notified of potential job loss
Digital media streaming vanguard RealNetworks has commenced layoffs of seven percent of its workforce. An additional seven percent may follow in the coming months. The moves are part of interim CEO Rob Glaser's plan to reduce costs by $45 million as rapidly as possible. The first wave of employees involved in the layoffs were notified today, and the second batch have been notified that their current positions will not be renewed at the completion of work, and they may be reassigned elsewhere if financial conditions improve.
Parting amicable, founder Ron Glaser appointed interim CEO
RealNetworks has amicably parted ways with CEO Thomas Nielsen after less than a yearless than a year of service in the position. Both Nielsen and the board of directors agreed that the position wasn't the right fit for the executive. Rob Glaser has been appointed interim CEO of the streaming media company, effective immediately.
Fund settles suit that claimed improper charges
Online media company RealNetworks has settled a lawsuit brought by the Washington State Attorney General regarding the company's practice of charging some users for services they did not want. MSNBC reports that, over the course of seven years, more than 500 people complained to the Better Business Bureau about RealNetworks' practices. As a result of the settlement, RealNetworks will establish a $2 million compensation fund for subscribers who were overcharged between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2009.
Intel makes key deal for RealNetworks video
Intel and RealNetworks made a crucial deal for video technology on Thursday. The semiconductor firm has paid $120 million to get a "significant" 190 of RealNetworks' patents. In exchange, Intel has agreed to team with RealNetworks to co-develop the latter's signature video codecs and will take on seven codec developers from its partner in the process.
Former Adobe exec ran Photoshop unit
RealNetworks on Tuesday named Thomas Nielsen as its new CEO. Neilsen headed Adobe's Digital Imaging business unit that included the Photoshop, Photoshop and Premiere Elements, and Lightroom apps. Neilsen is assuming the permanent position that had been left open by the sudden departure of Bob Kimball earlier this year.
Supreme court rejects ASCAP attempt at double-dip
The US Supreme Court late Monday rejected ASCAP's attempt to claim that song downloads are public performances. Its verdict upheld an earlier appeal ruling without added comment. The earlier, federal-level judge pointed to basic logic for support, contending that a digital recording isn't necessarily being played live to a wide audience just because it had been transferred over the Internet.
Rhapsody consolidates streaming with Napster deal
Rhapsody shook up online music Monday by buying Napster. The deal will put the two streaming and download music services together. Cash involved in the deal wasn't mentioned, but Napster's now former owner, Best Buy, will have a minority stake in the combined service.
Verizon Video app launches for Android phones
Verizon has just introduced Verizon Video, a fresh video-on-demand app for smartphones. It offers current TV episodes from over 250 shows, live sports and events streaming from ABC, NBC, CBS an MTV along with Comedy Central, Animal Planet, CNBC, Disney Channel, ESPN and more. The subscription service is now available (Android Market) for the Android platform only, however.
Program adds album art, fixes song info tags
[Updated: Program officially announced] A new program called Rinse, developed by RealNetworks, claims to be able to automatically correct song titles, add album art, and remove duplicate tracks from an iTunes library. Versions of the program are available for both Mac OS and Windows XP and Vista. The company claims the program works even with misspelled or incomplete information, providing that at least one word of the artist and song names is spelled correctly.
Sprint Music Plus gives hybrid player and store
Sprint on Tuesday decided to provide its own more complete portal for music on smartphones by launching Sprint Music Plus [mobile link]. The app gives Android, BlackBerry, and Java phone users a way to play the phone's local music collection as well as a built-in store run by RealNetworks. The store offers unprotected MP3 tracks and puts any downloads on the carrier bill to keep it simple.
Dispute over blocking Real files from iPods
A federal magistrate judge, Howard R. Lloyd, has ordered Apple CEO Steve Jobs to answer questions in a long-running antitrust dispute over the iPod and RealNetworks audio files, says Bloomberg. "The court finds that Jobs has unique, non-repetitive, firsthand knowledge about the issues at the center of the dispute over RealNetworks software," Lloyd's judgment reads. Jobs is expected to undergo a deposition, although it is not allowed to last more than two hours or stray from the topic at the heart of the case.
Cloud library accessible from Mac, PC, iPhone, web
RealNetworks is using CES 2011 to preview a new cloud-centric media library, Unifi. The service tracks all a user's media, from local devices, social media and into the cloud. It catalogs and organizes the content into a single library, supporting search limiters such as media types, devices or tags. The library will track mobile devices, networked data and will eventually track media on Internet TVs and game consoles.
Real agrees to keep DVD ripper off shelves
RealNetworks on Wednesday night agreed to a settlement in movie studios' lawsuit against RealDVD. The deal will see the company agree to a permanent ban against selling the app and related technologies as well as pay out a settlement of $4.5 million to the MPAA members that launched the suit. In return, the MPAA has promised only to drop the legal action.
Will provide music, ringback and ring tones
Sprint and RealNetworks have announced an agreement that will give Sprint's mobile customers digital music through a unified storefront. Initially the service will provide full-track music, ringtones, and ringbacks through a simplified user interface. The move is expected to create a better user experience as well as save resources for for Sprint.
Rhapsody to be pure music firm
RealNetworks in a surprise move tonight broke off Rhapsody as a separate company. The move has the blessing of Real's partner in the venture, Viacom, and will transfer all the rights to Rhapsody so that its streaming and download music services remain intact. Real will also inject $18 million in cash and promises that Rhapsody will be independent, with no one else holding a majority stake.
Online videos saved from sites such as YouTube
RealNetworks on Monday released a beta version of its RealPlayer SP software for Mac. The utility, which builds upon the features of RealPlayer 11, provides tools for downloading and converting videos into formats compatible with a variety of cellphones and other devices such as iPods and Apple TV. Users can download online videos, from sites such as YouTube, and convert the content or share links via Facebook, Twitter or MySpace.
HP MusicStation to run on Omnifone
HP today said it will launch a music subscription service on its computers in Europe. A computer-based version of MusicStation will follow the model of services like the Zune Pass and give customers unlimited access to the music catalog but will give away 10 tracks to keep each month. About 16 HP PCs will carry the subscription, which will cost 10 euros (about $14) per month.
Real founder Rob Glaser out
Real tonight surprised the industry as its chief executive and founder Rob Glaser is stepping down from his primary role. The early web video pioneer will be temporarily replaced by Robert Kimball as acting CEO but will still have both his role as board chairman and his existing investments.
Real allegedly brought on trouble itself
Judge Marilyn Patel in a quiet move on Friday dismissed Real's lawsuit against movie studios over their alleged collusion to block RealDVD. The Northern District Court official rejected the idea citing precedents that let companies band together to ensure a legal income and said the DVD Copy Control Association, as well as the Motion Picture Association of America, were allowed to work together to stop what they believed was illegal copying. Real also wasn't found to have suffered any significant losses from the move.
New Squeezebox delayed for unknown cause
Logitech at mid-day said it has delayed its launch of the Squeezebox Touch until February. The company didn't provide an explanation for the delay, which comes after it had already pushed back the launch of the media streaming hub to December in its original September unveiling.
Google Music Search uses iLike, Lala
Google at a Los Angeles event tonight unveiled its widely expected advanced music search feature. The addition (a video of which is available below) automatically parses regular searches for music from all four major labels and automatically filters it by artist, album or track; users can then either sample or buy the tracks through Lala or MySpace's iLike. Those who use recommendation-based Internet streaming service like iMeem, Pandora or Rhapsody can also find related music.
Spotify for iPhone and Android
Spotify tonight quietly saw the release of both the iPhone (1.7MB) and Android versions of its promised mobile app. On both platforms, the free app lets those with a Spotify Premium subscription (roughly $14 per month) stream the service's entire catalog, including music from all the major labels. They also have access to an offline mode that caches whole playlists for use when Internet access over 3G or Wi-Fi isn't available.
Spotify iPhone App
Apple today said it has approved Spotify's iPhone app. A spokesperson for the company made the rare statement ahead of the app's appearance for paidContent in what's seen as a bid to prevent accusations of anti-competitive behavior regarding the app, which will need a 10 Euro (roughly $14) monthly premium subscription but which will give unlimited streaming of music over both Wi-Fi and on iPhones using 3G. It's unclear when the app will actually appear but is expected only in countries where Spotify is already available on computers, such as the UK or Spain.
Revo IKON Radio Dock
Revo this morning claimed the high ground in radio docks through the unveiling of the IKON. The system aims to be a center for all digital audio with DAB+ radio (for the UK), Internet radio through many sources that include Last.fm, Pandora, Rhapsody and Sirius, an iPhone/iPod dock and media sharing from Macs and PCs on the local Ethernet or Wi-Fi network. A unique advantage in the field is a 3.5-inch touchscreen that provides both a much more context-sensitive interface for each source but displays album art, song data and anything else a given format allows.
Real Rhapsody for iPhone
Real this morning branched out to Apple devices in earnest by revealing a port of its Rhapsody service to the iPhone and iPod touch. Normally only offered through rival players like those from SanDisk, the service gives subscribers access to the full song catalog and lets them queue up any of the 8 million songs from Rhapsody on request. It also provides access to playlists, Rhapsody Radio and every other service normally available through the full-function website, Real claims.
WD TV Mini Media Hub
Western Digital shrunk its media hub today and produced the WD TV Mini, a new extra-small version of its earlier media sharing device. The set-top box omits HDMI output but now measures just 3.6 inches square and 0.8 inches deep while still capable of playing 1080i video depending on the codec. RealVideo format support is equally new and complements the existing MPEG-1/2/4, VOB and XviD formats.
RealDVD Injuction Stays
A US court on Tuesday maintained (reg. required) a preliminary injunction that prevents RealNetworks from selling its RealDVD software pending the results of a lawsuit against the company. The decision is characterized by Judge Marilyn Patel as a safeguard given the legal ramifications of the technology. While she agrees individual DVD copying is legal given fair use principles, she warns that software designed to streamline copying and sharing DVDs is often illegal under federal law and that allowing sales may run afoul of that law.
Real Sues MPAA
RealNetworks today fought back against Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) claims that it was aiding piracy by filing counterclaims against both six studios in the MPAA and the DVD Copy Control Association. Sent through a Northern District of California court, the complaints accuse both groups of violating antitrust law by colluding together on trying to block legal alternatives to fair use copying of DVDs. Rather than grant copyrights through individual studios, permission is offered solely through a joint agreement between all of the studios and the DVD CCA, effectively letting them exclude anyone they decide offers competition to their own methods.
RealDVD vs MPAA trial
In the ongoing legal battle between the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and RealNetworks over the latter's RealDVD computer program that lets users violate copyright laws, the MPAA argued removing the software's restrictions on how many computers can access the ripped files is easily done. Robert Shumann, an expert on securing DVDs, took the stand on Tuesday at the request of the MPAA and said changing RealDVD to allow for more than the current five computers to playback the copied content is simple.
Real Facet Prototype
RealNetworks is developing a digital media hub reference design that would let users store protected rips of their own DVD movies, the company's project lead Jeff Albertson revealed late yesterday. Nicknamed Facet, the Linux-based device mentioned to the New York Times would use the same technology as Real's RealDVD software and would let users store copies of DVDs on a hard drive, letting them play movies they own themselves while preserving the CSS copy protection to prevent piracy. An example Facet would hold about 70 movies.
Yahoo Music Revamp
Yahoo today unveiled a reworked, public beta version of Yahoo Music that significantly changes the company's philosophy on content. The new version serves as a central hub for third-party music services and will let users buy songs from a number of sources, including Amazon and iTunes. It likewise collects Internet radio streams from Last.fm and Pandora as well as music videos on YouTube.
RealDVD gets court date
RealNetworks will get a chance to defend the legality of its RealDVD DVD ripping software on April 24th in court, launched back in September, sales of which were later banned by a federal judge and the ban extended after the software maker was sued by movie studios. The trial will take place in a US District Court in San Francisco, RealNetworks Chairman and CEO Rob Glaser said in a Friday TWICE report.
Haier ibiza Theatre
Haier in a low-key introduction has revealed its second and third major players in the ibiza line. The ibiza Theatre is the company's first real touchscreen player and serves as a lower-cost alternative to players from Apple and Samsung; while it has a 2.4-inch, 320x240 screen and doesn't appear to include Wi-Fi, the device includes Bluetooth for wireless headphones, an FM radio tuner and a microSD slot to add more space. It also supports Real's Rhapsody to Go for loading the device with music from the unlimited subscription service.
Facebook Music Rumor
A previously hinted-at Facebook music service could be true after all, a claim made by VentureBeat suggests. Previously discredited, a now supported rumor asserts that the social network is allegedly planning to team up with a partner such as iLike, imeem, Lala or RealNetworks' Rhapsody to offer a way of at least streaming full songs over artist pages or those friends who bring up songs in the regular Facebook news feed. The service would potentially let users buy downloads, though whether this would involve the partner or simply linking to a third party such as Amazon or iTunes is unknown.
RealDVD ban extended
A temporary ban issued at the start of this week on RealNetwork’s sales of its RealDVD software, which allows users to copy DVD movies, has been extended until a hearing is held to decide whether or not to make the ban more permanent. The stop in sales was ordered by a US federal judge after Hollywood studios, represented by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), sued RealNetworks over copyright issues. The extension came just one day after the original temporary ban, on Tuesday, according to a Thursday report.
Judge Temp Blocks RealDVD
A judge today issued a temporary ban on sales of RealNetworks' RealDVD as part of proceedings for major movie studios' copyright lawsuit against the video software firm. The move, which officially lasts until Tuesday, is primarily to give the judge an opportunity to review filings made in the case but may be extended if more time is needed or the court decides to support a longer injunction against sales until the end of the case.
Verizon Blitz Official
Verizon this morning switched its attention to non-smartphone messaging with the formal rollout of the Blitz. The UTStarcom-made device has a traditional feature phone interface but a slide-out QWERTY keyboard that speeds up responding to e-mail as well as instant messaging. The change also has the upside of keeping the closed phone short at 3.5 inches tall and allowing room for a 2.2-inch LCD.
RealPlayer exploit fix
RealNetworks is urging Mac users to upgrade to version 11.0 of its RealPlayer application, due to a potential security exploit. The malware research site Secunia rates the problem as "highly critical," with potential risk of malicious system access and exposure of sensitive information. The vulnerability affects Realplayer v10 and v10.1 for Mac OS X. The company did not issue a patch, but is instead urging users to upgrade to RealPlayer 11.0. The company says there is a problem with Realplayer's ActiveX import method buffer overflow.
Yahoo Music Compensation
Yahoo will compensate customers of its Yahoo Music online store once the company shuts down its servers and prevents customers from renewing their copy protection licenses, the company says. The firm now says that anyone who purchased tracks in addition to their monthly subscriptions to Yahoo Music will be refunded "for whatever [was] paid" for the songs so that they aren't forced to repurchase the tracks later. All active subscribers can also voluntarily transfer over to RealNetworks' Rhapsody subscription service and will have their lower $10 monthly rate carry over for a limited amount of time.
Amazon May Back MySpace
The upcoming MySpace Music service may ultimately be run by another major online music store, say alleged sources for TechCrunch. The social networking site is described as most likely picking Amazon MP3 to handle the commerce behind the store but is also said to be entertaining offers from other companies, including Apple and RealNetworks. No commitments have yet been made.
CES highlights, Gallery 1
The second day of CES has drawn to a close, with many companies making major announcements about new products and services. Intel unveiled its 45nm Core 2 mobile platform with integrated SSE4 and 6MB of cache, available in speeds ranging from 2.1GHz to 2.8GHz. Microsoft announced that its Xbox Video Marketplace service will see content from Disney-ABC and MGM, and formally denied rumors that Xbox 360 with built-in HD-DVD is in planning. HP’s MediaSmart gear was given a complete overhaul, while also introducing several new laptop products. Seagate was on hand to show a number of different new storage options, while RealNetworks showed various products that use its Rhapsody media service.
Philips TV, audio products
Philips today introduced several new home and personal audio products, also a new line of LCD TVs. Pairing up with RealNetworks, the company’s new Streamium NP1100 relies on the 4.5 million track collection offered by Real’s Rhapsody network, as well as internet radio, and PC music libraries to bring audio to the home environment. The device uses a black and white display to show track information, and has a built-in WiFi receiver to connect with users’ home wireless networks. Philips expects to ship the NP1100 in May for $150.