RealNetworks

RealNetworks

Infobox_Company
company_name = RealNetworks, Inc.
company_
company_type = Public (NASDAQ|RNWK)
company_slogan = Freedom Of Choice
foundation = 1995
location = Seattle, Washington, USA
key_people = Rob Glaser, Chairman/CEO
Michael Eggers, Senior VP/CFO
num_employees = 1,722 (2008)cite web |url=http://zenobank.com/index.php?symbol=RNWK&page=quotesearch |title=Company Profile for RealNetworks Inc. (RNWK) |accessdate=2008-10-01]
industry = Computer software
revenue = increase$568 Million USD (2007)
net_income = decrease$48 Million USD (2007)
products = RealPlayer
RealPlayer Music Store
RealArcade
RealRhapsody
RealTime
SuperPass
homepage = [http://www.realnetworks.com www.realnetworks.com]
RealNetworks (NASDAQ|RNWK) is a provider of Internet media delivery software and services based in Seattle, United States. The company is best known for the creation of RealAudio, a compressed audio format, RealVideo, a compressed video format and RealPlayer, a media player. The company is also known for its subscription-based online entertainment services like Rhapsody, SuperPass, and RealArcade, and for its media properties like Film.com and RollingStone.com (which it operates in partnership with Rolling Stone owners Wenner Media).

RealMedia streaming files can contain RealAudio and RealVideo streams, and several other formats like SMIL.
Helix is their free software / open source media framework. The code is released under various licenses, like the RealNetworks Public Source License starting in 2003 and the GPL in 2004. Not all of the source code is licensed under one of the free software licences, for example the codecs.

Music Store

In August 2003, RealNetworks acquired Listen.com's "Rhapsody" music service, and renamed it "RealRhapsody". It offers streaming music downloads for a monthly fee. In January 2004, RealNetworks announced that they are creating RealPlayer Music Store, featuring DRM-restricted music in the AAC file format. After some initial tries to push their own DRM scheme (named "Helix DRM") onto all device manufacturers with the Creative Zen Xtra and the sansa e200r as the only existing compliant devices, they sparked controversy by introducing a technology called Harmony that allowed their music to play on iPods as well as Microsoft Windows Media Audio DRM-equipped devices using a "wrapper" that would convert Helix DRM into the two other target DRM schemes.

The domain "real.com" attracted at least 67 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a Compete.com study. [ [http://siteanalytics.compete.com/real.com?metric=uv Real.com attracts 67 million visitors annually] ]

ubscription services

RealNetworks was one of the pioneers of the streaming media, both in software and content. In 2000, one of the initial products, the download manager RealDownload, was already used for pushing small software, such as games, to subscribers' computers. On top of the subscription for RealDownload and using its RealVideo streaming technology, a service called GoldPass, including unlimited access for video snippets from ABC and movie previews, was offered to registered users for a $10 a month fee. [ [http://www.streamingmedia.com/article.asp?id=6013 Streamingmedia.com: RealNetworks Launches Subscription Service ] ] . More content was added through deals with CBS for the reality show "Big Brother" and NBA basketball.

In the next few years, RealNetworks went though an inclusive phase, adding content from CNN, ESPN [http://www.ticker.com/Annualreport/RNWK/RNWK-2001.pdf] . A deal with AOL saw RealNetworks offering NetMusic.com, a music subscription service, to AOL subscribers [ [http://www.internetvideomag.com/Articles-2004/022324Real.htm Real Networks ] ] and RealPlayer bundled with AOL's acquisition, the browser Netscape. GoldPass was rebranded SuperPass.

After the dot-com crash, RealNetworks cut most of the resources. Some of the content was lost, some was limited to local markets (e.g., Ministry of Sound was available only to UK subscribers). With the increase in broadband usage, RealNetworks started offering live broadcasts of CNN International, BBC World, Al-Jazeera etc., separately for prices between $6 and $12, or bundled in the SuperPass for about $35 a month depending on the market. Between 2003 and 2006, SuperPass included, for European subscribers, unlimited access to UEFA Champions League full-length game recordings.

RealDVD

On September 30th 2008, RealNetworks launched a new product called "RealDVD". The software allows any user to legally save a copy of a DVD movie they own. Since its launch the product has been criticized for its imperfections. [http://real.lithium.com/real/board/message?board.id=RealDVD&thread.id=203] Such imperfections include choppy play, pixelating and artifacting from the original DVD, and unclear restrictions around the Digital Rights Management embedded within the software.

As of today, RealNetworks is facing a lawsuit from the release of this software under claims that the software allows anyone to save a movie they do not legally own, or renting movies, ripping them and then returning them. [http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/10/01/technology/01film.php]

On October 3rd 2008, the company announced that the software was not available to download due to the lawsuits brought against them. [http://real.lithium.com/real/board/message?board.id=RealDVD&thread.id=220]

History

RealNetworks (then known as Progressive Networks) was founded by ex-Microsoft executive Rob Glaser in 1995. The original goal of the company was to provide a distribution channel for politically progressive content. It quickly evolved into a technology venture to leverage the Internet as an alternative distribution medium for audio broadcasts. Progressive Networks became RealNetworks in September 1997.

Company timeline:
*April 1995: RealAudio 1.0 released (finalized June 1995)
*August 1995: First live broadcast of a baseball game over the Internet between the Seattle Mariners and the New York Yankees
*October 1995: RealAudio 2.0 debuts (finalized April 1996)
*September 1996: RealAudio 3.0 launches, with debut of Sheryl Crow's single "If It Makes You Happy"
*October 1996: RTSP standardization initiative launched with Netscape Communications Corporation
*February 1997: RealVideo debuts as part of RealPlayer 4.0 (finalized June 1997)
*June 1997: RealPlanet.Com international content aggregation site launches with landmark cybercast of the transfer of the sovereignty of Hong Kong.
*July 1997: Broad technology and investment relationship between Progressive Networks and Microsoft
*September 1997: RealSystem 5.0 debuts, adding support for Macromedia Flash
*September 1997: Progressive Networks changes name to "RealNetworks", and files with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to become a publicly traded company
*November 1997: Initial public offering of shares from RealNetworks (RNWK).
*March 1998: RealNetworks acquires Vivo Software
*April 1998: RealSystem G2 debuts. G2 was a complete rearchitecture of RealSystem, allowing development of plugins at all levels of the system. G2 was the first release to support RTSP, SMIL, GIF, JPEG, RealPix, and RealText.
*July 1998: Rob Glaser testifies before the United States Senate regarding competitive practices of Microsoft
*April 1999: RealNetworks acquires software maker Xing Technology
*May 1999: RealJukebox 1.0 launched
*November 1999: RealPlayer 7 launched, with Take5 daily programming service and MP3 support
*January 2000: RealNetworks acquires NetZip
*August 2000: RealNetworks rebrands GoldPass as SuperPass.
*May 2000: RealSystem 8 debuts, with RealVideo 8
*January 2001: RealNetworks acquires Aegisoft corp.
*May 2001: RealArcade launches
*July 2001: RealNetworks reduces staff by 15%
*September 2001: RealOne Platform launched, including new subscription service
*January 2002: RealOne subscription service passes 500,000 subscribers
*April 2002: RealVideo 9 released
*July 2002: Helix initiative launched, along with Helix Universal Server. Initiative includes plan to release substantial parts of proprietary technologies under an open source licence. RealNetworks also announced partnership with Xiph.org to support the free software Ogg Vorbis audio codec.
*August 2002: RealNetworks reduces staff by 11%
*October 2002: Helix DNA Client source code released under open source license
*December 2002: Helix DNA Producer source code released under open source license
*January 2003: Helix DNA Server source code released under open source license
*August 2003: RealNetworks acquires Listen.com's Rhapsody music service and renames it RealRhapsody
*January 2004: RealNetworks announce RealPlayer Music Store as a response to iTunes Music Store
*January 2004: RealNetworks acquires GameHouse
*July 2004: RealNetworks reverse-engineers Apple Computer's FairPlay code, allowing songs from their online store to be played on an iPod. Starts a website at www.musicfreedomofchoice.org petitioning Apple to remove the lock-out from their products, but then removes the petition when many of the signers complain about RealNetworks' similar policies.
*October 2005: RealNetworks and Microsoft settle lawsuit filed by Real in December 2003, which accused Microsoft of illegally leveraging its Windows monopoly to win customers in the digital-music business. Real receives $460 million to settle antitrust claims and another $301 million in cash and services to promote and distribute Rhapsody. Real's board grants CEO Rob Glaser a $2.9 million bonus for the settlement. [http://apps.shareholder.com/sec/viewerContent.aspx?companyid=RNWK&docid=4175447]
*January 2006: RealNetworks provides unlimited downloadable movies through its co-branded Starz service with a 14 day free trial to encourage consumers.
*March 2006: RealNetworks announces that Cingular Video, Cingular Wireless, on-demand video services for mobile phones is powered by RealNetworks Helix media delivery and playback platform. Included in the announcement is reference to 80 other wireless carriers and 60 million handsets using Helix.
*June 2007: Starz Movie service ends on June 14th, 2007. All Superpass members are allowed the option to watch movies from the Superpass homepage.
*December 2007: RealNetworks reduces staff by 10%
*January 2008: Rhapsody service available on TiVo
*April 2008: RealNetworks acquires TryMedia for an estimated $4 Million US
*June 2008: Rhapsody MP3 store is launched, allowing purchase of most songs for 99 cents and albums for $9.99. Initial pricing fails to exclude boxed sets, but is corrected after 10 days.
*June 2008: RealNetworks unveils new, web based version of the RealArcade service.
*July 2008: Final Days of RealArcade 1.4 is announced, last day before the shutoff of 1.4 is August 5th. All members of the service must upgrade to the new version in order to continue to use the service.
*September 2008: RealNetworks launches RealDVD, software that allows users to legally save their movie collection on their computer.

References

External links

* [https://helixcommunity.org/content/licenses RealNetworks Public Source License] and other licenses for the Helix project
* [http://www.realaudioguide.com/ Real Guide - RealNetworks Product List]
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20031206182940/http://www.realnetworks.com/company/press/releases/2002/xiph.html RealNetworks press release regarding Vorbis support (via WayBack Machine)]
* [http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/business/0,39023166,20282419,00.htm Real to launch song store]


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