RealNetworks and Sony have extended their partnership in digital audio and video, announcing a revised agreement Tuesday that should help both companies widen the reach of their respective digital-media technologies.
As part of the deal, the companies will carry out joint research and development to ensure that products from RealNetworks, such as its RealOne software, work well with new and existing consumer gadgets from Sony. For its part, RealNetworks will continue to incorporate Sony media technologies such as its ATRAC3 (Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding) audio-compression system with future Real software.
Signalling a deeper commitment to RealNetworks, Sony also agreed to purchase a minority stake of one per cent in RealNetworks, the companies said in a statement. Specific financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Sony and RealNetworks have been partners on digital media since early 2000 when they announced a similar agreement to use each other's products and technologies. In May of last year the Sony Computer Entertainment division said it would embed RealPlayer in the PlayStation 2, allowing users to view content downloaded from the Internet on its gaming console.
Today's agreement is significant because it calls for a "far deeper commitment" to the joint research and development efforts, according to Brian Turner, chief financial officer at RealNetworks. In addition, the agreement extends the partnership to include a wider range of Sony products, including networked consumer devices that have yet to be announced by the Tokyo-based company, he said.
The original agreement "was primarily aimed at the PC platform", Turner said. "Now it's all of these devices as well."
The deal is non-exclusive, meaning Sony is also free to work with RealNetworks rivals such as Microsoft, Turner said.
"Sony is free to work with Microsoft, but Sony is a natural ally for RealNetworks," he said.
Sony acquired its stake in RealNetworks from a third-party shareholder, not from RealNetworks itself, and it does not provide Sony with a seat on the RealNetworks board of directors, Turner said.