Vodafone Inks RealNetworks Deal

Internet media software company RealNetworks, outflanking arch-rival Microsoft, unveiled a deal on Monday to supply top European mobile carrier Vodafone with software that streams live video to cell phone users. RealNetworks said Vodafone would use its software to transmit real-time audio and video -- from classical music concerts to video feeds of traffic trouble spots -- to the UK-based carrier's 119 million customers. While the David-and-Goliath battle between the two Seattle-area software companies is by no means over, the Vodafone deal caps a drive by niche player Real to clinch exclusive deals with cell phone industry leaders.

Nokia, the world's largest handset maker, and Ericsson, the largest maker of mobile network equipment, already have agreements with RealNetworks. "We've got the three number-ones that matter," said Lee Joseph, general manager at RealNetworks' international mobile operations. "This is a strategic win."

Nokia, with a dominant 35 percent share of the global handset market, fears Microsoft wants the same dominance in handsets that it built up in personal computers, and consistently chooses to work with Microsoft rivals. Vodafone, which operates in 28 countries around the world, said it would start installing Real's software sometime next year. "We consider it a better quality product," a Vodafone spokesman said.

News source: Reuters - Vodafone Inks RealNetworks Deal

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