Vodafone, RealNetworks Team
RealNetworks Inc. will provide music streaming and download services to European customers of mobile phone operator Vodafone Group PLC as part of a deal linked to an acquisition.
Under the agreement announced Wednesday, RealNetworks will offer mobile music services, including Internet radio-style music streaming, to users of Vodafone's Live entertainment and information portal. The services were previously provided by Sony NetServices, a joint venture of Sony DADC and Sony Europe, which RealNetworks agreed to buy on Wednesday.
NetServices offers the personalized music streaming service StreamMan, which allows consumers to download full songs or stream music to their 3G (third-generation) mobile phones and PCs. In addition to Vodafone, several other European mobile phone operators, including TeliaSonera AB, use the service.
The NetServices acquisition follows the earlier purchase of South Korea's WiderThan Co. Ltd., whose technology allows wireless operators to provide a range of mobile entertainment services, such as ring tones, music-on-demand, mobile games and messaging. The deals have helped RealNetworks broaden its portfolio of on-demand music offerings targeted at the wireless sector.
RealNetworks is moving to expand both its technological and geographical reach as demand for mobile entertainment services grows.
Higher speed handsets and low-cost data usage packages have sparked interest in mobile entertainment services. Nearly 20 million Europeans downloaded music to their handsets in March alone, according M:Metrics Inc.