RealNetworks and Sony Corp. Reaffirm Partnership

RealNetworks Inc. and Sony Corp. strengthened their continuing partnership with the creation of a strategic alliance agreement, and the purchase of a one-percent stake in RealNetworks by Sony. The new agreements will help the companies in collaborating on and developing distribution and digital content software technologies for Sony digital products.

The companies' present partnership has been ongoing for two years. Previously, RealNetworks and Sony cooperated on integrating Sony technologies such as the ATRAC3 sound compression format and OpenMG copyright protection technology with RealNetworks products including RealPlayer and RealJukebox, and distributing the combined products with Sony hardware. The new alliance is an extension of this existing relationship and reflects the expansion in network distribution of digital audio and video content to PCs and a new generation of networked consumer electronics products.

The new agreement establishes a framework for joint, regular product and business reviews and collaboration on initiatives, including the further integration of Sony's ATRAC3 technology into RealNetworks products, the adoption of RealNetworks products into Sony's networked CE devices, and the enhancement of the compatibility of RealNetworks software such as RealOne with Sony's portable audio players and OpenMG devices such as NetMD.

The companies are also considering incorporating Sony's OpenMG technology into RealNetworks digital content distribution solution for digital music distribution and digital video distribution services. Sony plans to adopt these combined digital distribution systems in a variety of networked CE products such as Sony's networked audio products and PlayStation 2.