RealNetworks sees intranets as streaming media venue

When President Clinton’s videotaped grand jury testimony was released in
September, an estimated 2 million people watched it on desktop computers using viewers
from RealNetworks Inc. of Seattle.


Web news outlets such as ABCNews.com, Fox News, CNN and National Public Radio used the
company’s RealVideo to distribute the video over the Internet, giving RealNetworks
what executive producer Mark Hall called its first near-cable-sized audience.


But the event also spotlighted the Internet’s video limitations, and millions more
viewers watched on television than online.


Adam Fagan, RealNetworks’ director of federal systems, called the Internet
“the most lousy environment known to man” for video.


RealNetworks, which claims an 85 percent share of the Internet streaming audio and
video market, is aiming its RealSystem G2 release at streaming media in almost any format
for intranets.


The company is betting that the greater bandwidth and more assured quality of service
on intranets will make it easier to disseminate streaming audio, video, text and
animation.


Fagan said the government’s distributed work force and diverse networking
platforms represent a prime market for the release, which was named G2 after the military
shorthand for intelligence.


“The government has been a tremendous early adopter” of streaming media,
Fagan said. “It is probably the fastest growing sector.”


Version 5 of RealSystem can handle audio, video, and Microsoft PowerPoint and vector
animations. The G2 release will add JPEG images, text and an open application programming
interface. It also will integrate Streaming Web Video software from Intel Corp. to improve
performance and quality of video delivery.


“We want to become a generic transport of streaming media” instead of merely
RealAudio and RealVideo feeds, Fagan said.


About 2 million copies of the first beta release of RealSystem G2 are in use now. The
second beta release, which incorporates Intel Streaming Web Video, is due soon.


G2’s RealPix feature will let users stream JPEG images with fade and zoom
transitions. RealText will be used to add static or live text to a presentation, either
alone or with graphics, in specified fonts, sizes, colors and scroll rates.


Fagan said the primary uses for intranet streaming media will be internal
communications, distance learning and training.


The beta release of the G2 client software is downloadable for free from
RealNetworks’ Web site at http://www.real.com.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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