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Real gets mobile with media middleware

Software maker RealNetworks introduces a collection of tools designed to help service providers deliver and manage streaming media on mobile devices.

Streaming media software maker RealNetworks released a slew of middleware products Tuesday, introducing a collection of tools for mobile communications providers.

Each of the new middleware packages is focused on advancing the use of Helix, the company's multimedia server software, on mobile devices. A group of wireless services vendors, including a number of European companies, currently use Helix to deliver streaming audio and video content to end users.

In addition to Real's high-profile relationship with U.K.-based wireless giant Vodafone, the company lays claim to Helix-oriented technology pacts with some 26 mobile operators, such as O2, Telecom Italia, Telefonica and Wind. In the United States, the software maker has established partnerships with vendors Sprint PCS and AT&T Wireless. Real also has partnerships to build its digital media technology directly into mobile handsets manufactured by Ericsson and Motorola.

Among the products launched Tuesday was the company's software for linking wireless networks to media delivery infrastructure, called Helix Service Delivery Suite. Real said the middleware should help limit integration issues and speed development of mobile content services by acting as an interface between billing, authentication and customer service systems. Other features of the package include security tools, usage measurement capabilities and access to service-related data.

Real also released its latest Helix Universal Server and Universal Gateway mobile middleware. Both products are designed to allow mobile operators to facilitate delivery of streaming video and audio content to existing wireless devices and networks. Functional upgrades for the software include compliance with emerging multimedia industry standards, increased support for various kinds of multimedia files, and technology for addressing changes in wireless network availability.

In addition, the Seattle-based company introduced new versions of its Helix Mobile Producer and Helix Universal Server Mobile middleware for multimedia content providers. As part of the release, RealNetworks made the debut of its latest mobile content encryption technology, labeled Helix Mobile Producer Standard, which was built under a partnership with streaming software maker Envivio.