Real to launch song store

RealNetworks is expected to throw its hat into the digital song store ring later this week, releasing a download service based on technology similar to that used in Apple Computer's iTunes store, according to sources familiar with the plans.

The new pay-per-song service, which is expected to be announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week, will see the company playing catch-up to Apple, which has won kudos from Windows and Macintosh users for its iTunes store and jukebox software. RealNetworks previously has focused on subscription products and said late last year that its Rhapsody and RealOne music services collectively had reached more than 250,000 subscribers.

Sources said the new store will be based on the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format--as are the songs in Apple's rival service--but wrapped in RealNetworks' own Helix digital rights management technology. That will limit the number of digital devices the songs can be played on, because most portable music device makers support only MP3 and Microsoft technology. Analysts, however, said the market is potentially still young enough to support the addition of RealNetworks' offering.

News source: C|Net News.com

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