RealNetworks plots cloud media management service early in 2011

Summary:RealNetworks is planning to launch a media cloud service in the first quarter that would allow you to move and access content to and from your various devices---smartphone, tablet, PC and potentially TV.

RealNetworks is planning to launch a media cloud service in the first quarter that would allow you to move and access content to and from your various devices---smartphone, tablet, PC and potentially TV.

In an interview on Wednesday, RealNetworks CEO Robert Kimball outlined this cloud effort. A few details of the product are still being worked out, but the launch will be notable since it's the first effort from the company in the post Rob Glaser era. Kimball has been restructuring the company to simplify, produce growth and get Real Networks focused on product development.

"The media cloud service would allow you to see, access and get content on multiple phones and screens," said Kimball. "It would be a master library of your digital life."

Under this arrangement, the consumer would decide what to put into the cloud, a local drive or a Web client. With multiple screens you have to get things from point A to point B, explained Kimball. "This is the first thing we've done in the transformed Real that is built from the consumer up instead of engineers down," he added.

The business model for the service would be a monthly charge. RealNetworks' service would utilize storage from Amazon Web Services to store content. Kimball said AWS would be handy to manage spikes.

While other companies are talking about cloud media management, RealNetworks could be ideally suited to the task. For starters, RealNetworks has been managing content for a long time. In addition, RealNetworks is used to operating on multiple platforms on both the PC and mobile devices. And the final point: RealNetworks may be the closest thing digital content management has to a Switzerland. Other players are trying to lock you into their platforms in some fashion.

If RealNetworks can pull off the interface and make moving around content simple, it could fill a real need. Kimball said the company would have more details in the coming months.

We'll have more from our Kimball interview about RealNetwork's turnaround strategy. RealNetworks is a work in progress---third quarter earnings were $24.5 million, or 18 cents a share, on revenue of $86.4 million---but the company may have some promising moves ahead.

Topics: Enterprise Software

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Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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