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Wednesday, January 07, 2004
RealNetworks launches media player, music store


Internet media company RealNetworks Inc. unveiled on Wednesday a new version of its software for playing music and video over the Web with a new feature -- a digital music store.

RealNetworks, which is suing longtime rival Microsoft Corp. for unfairly promoting its own software for playing audio and video on computers and over the Internet, said the new player will "leapfrog" Microsoft's current Windows Media 9 Series media player.

The Seattle-based company is calling its latest media software RealPlayer 10, going back to the name used before adopting the RealOne brand two years ago for its player and subscription services.

RealPlayer 10 will be able to play music and video in all major digital media formats, including Microsoft's Media 9 Series and Apple Computer Inc.'s QuickTime.

In addition, users will be able to buy digital music tracks directly from the media player and, depending on the format, transfer them directly to CDs or portable players, including Apple's popular iPod.

RealNetworks entered the digital music download space last year with the acquisition of Listen.com's Rhapsody service, which allows users to listen to more than 300,000 songs online and transfer them onto CDs for 79 cents each.

RealNetworks also said it would promote the launch of the new player and music download service by offering song downloads at 10 cents each for U.S. consumers who download the software within the next 10 days.

RealNetworks said that RealPlayer 10 would also be able to transfer music files to more than 50 portable music devices, including the iPod as well as handheld computers and phones running the Palm operating system.

RealNetworks is the latest software maker to claim a stake in digital music services.

Computer maker Apple scored a hit last year with its iTunes music store, which is credited for re-energizing the music download business and fueling sales of Apple's hardware products.

Digital media firm Loudeye Corp. and Microsoft said last month that they will jointly offer businesses a fast and relatively cheap way to offer music download services.

RealNetworks' online music store is based on its Rhapsody service, a $10 monthly subscription service for music streaming.

Music tracks available through RealPlayer 10 cost 99 cents each, the same price as iTunes tracks.


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