Compaq will be the first Pocket PC manufacturer to bundle RealNetworks' media streaming client on its handheld devices. RealOne Player, will which will play streamed audio and video over GSM 802.11b wireless networks and over GPRS mobile phone networks, was launched on Monday at the CTIA show in Orlando, Florida.
The bundling deal that will see the player shipped on Compaq iPaqs is an important step in the battle for streaming media to handheld devices; currently all Pocket PC devices ship with Microsoft Media Player, but RealNetworks is hoping to make inroads into this market.
RealNetworks still appears to have some way to go. None of the other Pocket PC manufacturers are announcing bundling deals, even though the player is available for download from RealNetwork's site here. The player runs on most recent Pocket PC devices, including those from Audiovox, Casio, HP, NEC, Sagem, Toshiba and the upcoming O2 xda device from BT spin-off mmO2. Gregg Makuch, product manager for the wireless consumer appliances division at RealNetworks, said he could not provide details on what other bundling details might be in the pipeline.
Compaq appears to be more ready than many to promote RealNetworks on its products; in December the company set the RealPlayer as the default media player on its Presario desktop consumer range, in recognition of the large amount of RealMedia content on the Internet. According to some estimates, RealMedia content outnumbers Windows Media content on the Internet by five to one.
RealOne Player for Pocket PC does not include the digitial rights management that is included in the full version. "Right now support for RealOne authentication is limited to the PC," said Makuch. "We are looking to extend these features to mobile devices, but first we have to get the player out there and get people consuming media -- then we will take the next step."
Within the next two weeks, RealNetworks plans to launch a plug-in PCs that will let users easily transfer files to their handheld devices, Makuch added.
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