RealNetworks and IBM unveil on-demand framework for digital media services

RealNetworks and IBM have announced a service that will enable media companies, network operators, and other businesses to create, protect, and deliver on-demand consumer digital audio and video services based on open standards.

With this new offering, companies will have the capability to more easily manage their digital assets through the combination of RealNetworks’ Real 10 digital media platform and IBM’s middleware. Integrated into a single system, the technology will help business users reduce the start-up costs and time typically associated with deploying digital media services such as Internet-delivered TV programming, mobile music services, and in-car digital music.

The new service, which is scheduled to be available worldwide in the first half of the year, takes aim at a market that research firm IDC predicts will reach almost $1 billion by 2007. It provides businesses with an alternative to building their own infrastructure for digital media distribution and sales.

The complexity and time needed to build a commercially viable platform that offered both rock-solid performance, as well as deep integration with billing and other internal services, has previously been a deterrent to companies looking to enter the on-demand digital media market.

Built on IBM’s expertise in content management and e-commerce and RealNetworks’ digital media delivery and subscription management infrastructure, this solution will provide rights holders and service providers with a much simplified and more affordable approach to getting their digital media products directly into consumers’ hands, the companies said.

Additionally, the solution will include open APIs to enable third-party applications, such as customer support, subscription management, and security, to interface easily with the on-demand digital media service. This will offer customers ease and flexibility in service implementation and provides a path to expand the solution over time.

The Real 10 platform—which includes RealPlayer 10, RealAudio 10, RealVideo 10, Helix DRM, and Helix Universal Server will be integrated with IBM WebSphere’s Digital Media Enabler, WebSphere Commerce and DB2 Content Manager, providing a comprehensive package for business users to manage, protect, distribute, and sell audio and video. With this service, content can easily be uploaded, rights quickly and accurately assessed, and when a sale is complete, securely delivered to the consumer.

Additionally, transaction systems can be smoothly integrated with existing billing and fulfillment services. The end-to-end solution will be cross-platform and multi-format to offer clients maximum flexibility in deployment. Clients can choose to implement this solution in-house or as a hosted solution from IBM Global Services and RealNetworks.

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