RealNetworks Announces Linux Netbook Licensing Agreement

It's been a while since RealNetworks lost its dominance of the PC media market, but just because all the attention has been on Flash and Silverlight doesn't mean that Real is no longer making advances. It's just focused most of its efforts in recent years on the RealPlayer for Mobile Devices, although the company claims that the regular RealPlayer is downloaded 1 million times each day worldwide.

There's no independent verification of that number, but whatever the current penetration of RealPlayer, the company made a major announcement today at Computex in Taipei, Taiwan, that should guarantee that overall penetration of Real will continue to grow. RealNetworks announced that its entered licensing agreements with leading Linux OS vendors to license RealPlayer for Mobile for use in both Linux OSs and Linux Instant-On OSs for Netbooks.

Partners include Xandros, Phoenix Technologies, DeviceVM, and—most importantly—Canonical, which makes the popular Ubuntu OS that dominates the Linux Netbook market. Of course, most Netbooks—90%, according to Microsoft—still ship with Windows, but Linux offers an advantage that applies particularly well to the Netbook market: instant-on capability.

Since most Netbook users are using the devices for quick web, email, and online media access, an OS that boots in 5-10 seconds as opposed to nearly a minute is an obvious plus. And having RealPlayer natively installed in those instant-on OSs should raise Real's flagging visibility.

It's not an either/or proposition—a Netbook can have both a Windows OS and a Linux instant-on OS installed, which means that as users become more savvy with their Netbooks, we're likely to see more dual-OS systems. Users can fire up the instant-on when they just want web or media access, and then fire up Windows when they need more. "This allows Real to penetrate the Windows side of the Netbook market," says Rishi Mathew, director of the RealPlayer for Mobile Devices division at RealNetworks. Real offers OEMs at least one other advantage: "Now, OEMs have a single point of licensing for codecs at a lower cost," adds Mathew, referring to Real's relatively low licensing costs.

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