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Taking digital music beyond the PC

His CES keynote focuses on RealNetworks' plans to make its software work with regular CD players, MP3 devices and TV set-top boxes

Rob Glaser hears music in his mind, and he hears it coming from everywhere, no matter where he goes.

And that's the way he wants to make it for everyone.

During his keynote address before the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the CEO of RealNetworks outlined how his company plans to adapt its RealJukebox software so that it can deliver music not just to personal computers, but to CD players, TV set-top boxes and low-cost handheld MP3 players.

For now, however, the PC will likely act as a hub for maintaining and distributing a music collection. That means its RealJukebox application will be a user's primary means of acquiring and then distributing digital music to his or her numerous devices.

To that end, the company has just launched a new version of its RealJukebox software. Called Update 1 and available via the company's Web site, it includes the ability to create conventional music CDs for a home or car stereo system. The update also adds support for Iomega's high-capacity removable disk drives, allowing for an easier way to move music from PC to PC.

And that's not all. Glaser said RealNetworks will add support for Universal Music's distribution format in a forthcoming version of RealJukebox -- an agreement that will eventually allow a vast selection of the music studio's catalogue to be sold and played on RealJukebox.

Glaser also said RealNetworks will integrate into its RealJukebox application some of consumer behemoth Sony's music technology as well as its increasingly popular Memory Stick storage devices.

Along with the news about enhancements to RealJukebox, Glaser also demonstrated two forthcoming versions of the software for use in the living room. One, a touch-screen-enabled version, will let a consumer play a song, view photos of the artist and view the song lyrics. The other, a video version of the software, was run on a set top box. It provided music and video, allowing users to view music videos or movies.

Glaser did not indicate when or if these two versions of the application would come to market.

For full coverage, see the CES News Special.

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