Nokia, RealNetworks Announce Deal

Thursday, June 29th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SEATTLE (AP) — RealNetworks Inc., in an effort to bring Internet-based audio and video to cell phone users, announced Wednesday that it would provide technology to Nokia for use in ``smart'' phones.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but RealNetworks has promised to shrink down its RealPlayer, commonly used on personal computers, for cell phones and Nokia's future Internet-based communicators.

``This is our first major announcement in the mobile space,'' said Len Jordan, senior vice president of consumer appliances for Seattle-based RealNetworks. ``This is fundamentally very important to our future.''

The two companies made their announcement at Euro Disneyland just outside Paris, where RealNetworks is holding an industry conference this week.

RealNetworks is the leader in providing ``streaming'' audio and video via the Internet. The company developed technology that allows people to start viewing large video files as they are downloading, or watch events live online.

Nokia, based in Helsinki, Finland, plans to introduce Internet-capable smart phones with RealNetworks' technology in 2001.

Jordan said RealNetworks will work on streamlining its technology for use in cell phones, which have far less computer memory, processing speed and electrical power than personal computers.

Another problem, one that RealNetworks' has less control over, is speed. Today's wireless Internet access is slow — about one-fourth the speed of a standard telephone Internet connection. However, parts of Europe and Asia are already testing so-called ``third-generation'' wireless technology, with speeds up to 6 1/2 times faster than a standard telephone connection.

``At the higher speeds, we're talking about (VCR tape) quality,'' Jordan said. ``Even at slower speeds, we can do some very good things.''

RealNetworks has yet to make a dent in the wireless market, where rival Microsoft Corp. has been spending heavily to promote its competing Windows Media technology. The vast majority of wireless and portable devices, however, have yet to implement either company's technology due to the slow speeds of wireless Internet connections.