March 23, 2010 Last Updated 6:41 pm

RealNetworks fights to get back in the game: introduces new mobile video platform for media & mobile operators

Real Networks announced that it is demonstrating its Mobile Video Portal (MVP) this week at CTIA Wireless in Las Vegas. The new platform is designed to be a “one-stop shop” for video, targeting media companies and mobile operators.
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According to a release from the company, MVP can create apps and publish them for use on many mobile platforms: iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and Java. Additionally, the new new platform can create and publish mobile websites for viewing on most devices.

RealNetworks believes its leadership position in the streaming media business will assist in the growth of the new platform. “With our current installed base for entertainment services, history in streaming, and track record of providing services that subscribers want and are willing to pay for, we believe we are well positioned to become the leading mobile video portal provider,” said Ken Pecot, vice president, Technology Products and Services, RealNetworks.

Late this morning Vincent Guytán, product management director for Real Networks, helped explain the platform and its advantages for media companies.

“In addition to handling and managing the full turn-key solution for mobile video (ingestion, CMS, encoding, device profiling, storage, streaming/CDN, mobile website, ads, reports/analytics), Real also has iPhone and Android apps with tools that allow one to develop and publish these apps (plus apps for other platforms),” Guytán told me.

“A customer (media company or mobile operator) can create the app once in the tool and then publish it to many platforms including iPhone, Android, RIM, Windows Mobile, BREW, Symbian, Java as well as publish a Mobile Website all from the same tool. Our backend tools and app engine can translate and convert what is created in the tool to work as a native app on all of those platforms plus more via the Mobile Web,” according to Guytán.
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“Media Companies in the past would need to cobble together all the elements required to create and manage an app like the CDN, CMS, app development, ads, encoders, etc. and then have to wrangle these companies together when an issue appeared (app down, etc.) to find out where the problem resided. With RealNetworks, the customer has one company to go to for assistance and is reassured by our over 15 years of experience in video as well as our great experience in managing Verizon V CAST and AT&T CV mobile video services. RealNetworks brings all of the components together required to support a professional mobile video service.”
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My biggest concern was whether Real’s new MVP platform would mean media companies are forced to create stand alone video apps, separate from their news apps, or whether they could integrate Real’s technology into one versatile application. Guytán kindly answered that “our mobile video service supports the notion of external links that allows you to connect disparate servers’ content and media types into one cohesive app on our platform.”

Although important for mobile apps for smart phones, this integration ability may be vital when these applications are translated for use in tablet publishing solutions.

Real is positioning MVP as one component of its Media Entertainment Platform. The platform is designed to streamline an operator or media firm’s audio and video content into one managed portal.

Today, many media properties are simply creating YouTube channels and using RSS feeds to stream video content onto their mobile media properties. While cheap and easy, the solution does not offer good branding and customization options. Additionally, YouTube video on the iPhone, though touted by Apple as one of its most important applications, is often a poor experience for users.

Real Networks, a pioneer in streaming media, has often been left out of the conversation lately when discussing mobile media. Earlier this month Real Networks announced that it was ending its attempt to introduce RealDVD, a software program that would allow users to copy their DVDs and store digital versions on their hard drives. Many have questioned the company’s direction under former CEO Rob Glaser.

Under Bob Kimball, the company’s interim CEO, the focus is on the RealPlayer and the company’s software solutions. The company, for instance, is reportedly reducing its ownership stake in Rhapsody, the music service that is jointed owned with Viacom’s MTV Networks.

Kimball was quoted by paidContent as stating that “I have no intention of running this company in its usual basis. We must do things differently and we will.”

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