Nokia gets real on mobile streaming media

As part of the agreement, RealNetworks will implement its RealPlayer technology in Nokia's communicators and smart phones.

Users will be able to access streaming audio and video on the mobile devices, with the first products scheduled to be available in 2001. Nokia and RealNetworks haven't started developing the internet media product for the EPOC operating system yet. EPOC is the mobile operating system developed by the Symbian consortium.

Members of the consortium include Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia. Sony recently chose EPOC as the operating system for its next-generation mobile phones.

RealNetworks said it expects to make other partnership announcements soon.

RealNetworks isn't entering into an exclusive agreement with Nokia or Symbian, and the Symbian consortium isn't picking RealNetworks as the sole streaming media partner.

"We will want to be on any device and any operating system," said Len Jordan, senior vice president of consumer appliances at RealNetworks, adding that it would be "an over-characterisation to see this as a standardisation by the Symbian consortium."

RealNetworks also will support Microsoft platforms, Jordan said in response to a question on that topic.

Technology-wise, RealNetworks is facing several challenges, Jordan said.

"Mobile devices are very different from PCs, especially where it concerns power, memory, storage, user interface, display, and networks," he said. "Our advantage is that the G2 RealPlayer is very modular."

For the user interface, RealNetworks has "started thinking about interfaces that go beyond the keypad," he said, noting that voice is an obvious way to control the mobile RealPlayer.

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