Services & Software

RealNetworks gets a taste for Apple

Real unveils a test version of its RealOne SuperPass service for the Macintosh--10 months after the multimedia subscription service was originally launched.

RealNetworks took another gradual step in launching its streaming media subscription service on the Macintosh.

The multimedia software company on Tuesday unveiled the latest beta, or test version, of RealOne SuperPass for Apple Computer's Mac OS X. SuperPass' availability comes 10 months after RealNetworks originally launched the multimedia subscription service, which features audio from Major League Baseball and video streams from CNN, ABCNews and CBS, to name a few.

The 10-month delay is surprising because one of Macintosh's main selling points is its multimedia features. Until now, Mac users could subscribe to RealNetworks' GoldPass, the precursor to SuperPass with less content, or download the latest version of RealNetworks' playback software. RealNetworks said the delay was longer than it anticipated, but explained that it had to build new code to fit the Mac OS X.

"We didn't release it on a simultaneous basis because we wanted to build the Mac product right," said Ryc Brownridgg, general manager of consumer software at RealNetworks. "It took us longer to do because we wanted to write a brand-new code base and there were many things that we wanted to solve that were evolving."

RealOne SuperPass has been a pioneering product that has tested Internet consumers' appetite to pay for multimedia content. So far, the service has shown decent traction with 750,000 paid subscribers, and RealNetworks has been one of few companies to strike relationships with marquee content producers.

However, competition for paid content will only get tougher as America Online, Yahoo and Microsoft's MSN begin to wrestle for a piece of the action. AOL and Yahoo in particular have begun selling premium content to their users and plan to beef up their efforts against RealNetworks. Microsoft, meanwhile, has been aggressively trying to court content producers to use its Windows Media software, which competes against RealNetworks' multimedia playback products.