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Sony and Nokia Find a 'Real' Deal
By Darren Ratner
(more articles from this author)
2001-05-21
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Did it ever feel like the technological universe is turning into a beauty pageant, with corporations dolling up every single idea and preparing it to become the next king or queen of the hill? At this point of the musical digitization movement, CEO's of companies like Sony and Nokia are flashing those million dollar smiles. And it's all because these titans are beginning to show no shame in doing whatever they can to run with the times.

It was released on May 16th that RealNetworks, Inc. had formed a shiny-new "strategic alliance" with Sony Computer Entertainment and Nokia Corporation. The plan of attack is to integrate the RealNetworks' RealPlayer 8, priding itself on features such as the downloading of music files, video and other stream-based entertainment, into both Sony's Playstation 2 and the upcoming Nokia Media Terminal. This is the newest collaboration in a series of partnerships that have formed with appliance manufacturers like Intel, Hewlett Packard and Texas Instruments. The hope is that people will begin shun the notion of staring at their PC and embrace a simpler, efficient and impressive means of quenching their thirst for digital pleasure.

"We've had a very focused strategy to work with the world's leading technology providers to offer consumers the freedom to experience the Internet away from their PC's," commented Mark Bretl, Vice President of the Consumer Appliances division of RealNetworks. "...we are deploying RealPlayer to a wide range of consumer appliances including PlayStation 2, set top boxes, Web top devices, home entertainment systems, and gaming platforms."

While most video game heads are aware of the impressive nick-naks housed within the PlayStation 2 (such as Internet access and DVD functions), incorporating the ever-popular RealPlayer will give gamers access to seemingly inconceivable amounts of audio and video files as well as over 2500 Web-based radio stations.

Ken Kutaragi, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. had this to say: "Our goal is to revolutionize the home entertainment market," he commented. "Streaming media integration will vastly enrich the computer entertainment world PlayStation has built up to date."

The Nokia Media Terminal, recently previewed at the E3 exhibition in Los Angeles, promises to be more than an average every day television by using digital video broadcasting (DVB), fully downloadable media and yes, folks - your own video recorder. It's also one of the recent examples of what's becoming known as the OST (Open Standards Terminal) platform, acting as a mother to open source programs such as Linux and Mozilla. With this, users become more involved with the functions of the applications rather than just viewing them. A RealPlayer based on the growing Linux program will be included with the Media Terminal.

Heikki Koskinen, Vice President and General Manager of Nokia Home Communications is, needless to say, enthused about the pedestal placed invention. "...the media terminal will allow users to take full advantage of today's leading streaming media technology and applications," he said. "Nokia is committed to providing the most innovative solutions for the home that enhance the pure entertainment experience."

Give these guys credit - they're managing to jump on every nook and cranny involved with the ever-changing realm of digitization that we never have to worry about lack of advancement. Lord, what would we do if DVB actually led us to the point where an average family could keep their PC for more than 3 years?! Seems like we'd finally reach the promised land.

But maybe we're forgetting the age-old philosophy of if "it ain't broke, don't fix it." Or in RealPlayer's case, if it ain't broke, leave it where it is. With systems like the PlayStation 2 still sucking its adolescent thumb, it seems like a crapshoot to include the RealPlayer (already pulling in a worldwide total of 200 million registered users) with a slightly, struggling video game console. Sony's recent difficulty with acquiring parts and equipment to propel the PlayStation 2 to a marketable monstrosity may be coming back to haunt them. The system was undoubtedly a Christmas smash, but there is still quite the deficiency of games and accessories in comparison to its older and less capable sibling. And honestly, anyone who can afford the 300-dollar system with games that run through the 40-50 dollar range probably own a computer to begin with. They're already enjoying RealPlayer sounds at their leisure.

On the flip side, it seems a bit more logical that RealNetworks leaped at the opportunity to become buddy-buddy with Nokia. Until they unmask the new Media Terminal to the public, it'll be tough to judge how ugly or attractive the system will be. Yet it's the type of system that will undoubtedly stand on its own unique potential. The Sony PlayStation 2, however, has been dead set on giving the consumer more confidence in a machine that is simply publicized as an answer to an unaffordable PC. They're also looking to forge ahead and hop on board the digital music cargo. So let's pose the question: What about worthy opponents like Microsoft and Nintendo? Industry gossipers say that these two will be breaking out their heavy artillery within the year. Should Sony think about hitting the ol' circuit board and striking back with bit of gusto? I'm sure most of their executives realize that the computer war is one of the gladiators - who's got the sharper sword and the bigger thrust. If they chose to confide in RealNetworks as a way of grabbing that extra edge, that just seems - sorry to say - weak.

Bottom Line: RealNetworks is opening itself up to somewhat unfamiliar territory. Partnering with Nokia could be a great way of letting stream-based media run what could be a successful course. But as for the PlayStation, we've already witnessed the inevitable destruction of the Dreamcast, leaving Sega with stars circling their head. And while it's highly doubtful that Sony will meet the same fate, never forget that Microsoft and Nintendo have muscle-bound market reputations and a fighting heart that would shoot fear through any corporate spine.

Linkography

Microsoft - www.microsoft.com
Nintendo - www.nintendo.com
Nokia - www.nokia.com
RealNetworks - www.realnetworks.com
Sega - www.sega.com
Sony - www.sony.com

Related MusicDish e-Journal Articles:
» BMG, Sony and Others Subscribe to the Internet - Duet & MusicNet, Universal & EMusic, Vitaminic & IUMA (2001-04-12)
» Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime - Mobile Market Adds Instant Internet Services (2001-03-27)
» InterTrust Partners with Nokia and Releases Financial Results for 2000 - Pushes Ahead with DRM Solutions for the Secure Delivery of Content to Mobile & Portable Devices (2001-02-05)

Related News from Mi2N:
» RealNetworks Pushes Strategy To Deliver Internet Media On Broad Array Of Devices And Platforms
» Nokia And RealNetworks To Deploy RealPlayer On Media Terminal
» Sony Computer Entertainment And RealNetworks Form Strategic Alliance To Include RealPlayerŽ On PlayStationŽ2


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