Sony Ericsson bundles RealPlayer

Media player company RealNetworks signed a deal to put its player on Sony Ericsson handsets.

Media player company RealNetworks signed a deal to put its player on Sony Ericsson handsets.

With its previous agreements to put it on Nokia handsets and Motorola's Linux phones, Real hoped this latest deal will give it a lead over rival media players such as Microsoft, in a consumer market that analysts expect to be huge.

"Video on demand will account for about $5bn in 2008. If you are going to get to that kind of figure, you need a strategy where you are getting players into the devices themselves," said analyst Philip Taylor of Strategy Analytics.

"This is not the same order of magnitude as the announcement last year that they were partnering with Vodafone, but it consolidates their position in the mobile space.

At the moment, the mass market is Java players on GPRS phones, but Real is looking in a good position three or four years out."

RealNetworks' European director Lee Joseph said his company wants to be on every handset.

Being installed on the system will be an even more powerful position, as 3G phone users will be less likely than PC users to download software and fiddle with the initial settings.

Real has had to accommodate standards much faster than it did in its products aimed at the PC. Its back-end media server products, as used by Vodafone, support the official 3G media standard, MPEG-4, as well as the more widely-used Real and Windows formats.

"RealNetworks' rivals have always accused it of only offering token support for 3GPP standards such as MPEG 4," said Taylor. "There is a certain element of truth in that, but Nokia and Sony Ericsson would only work with it if it complied with 3GPP standards."

Peter Judge writes for TechWorld.com

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