After about a week of speculation on who RealNetworks’ mobile carrier partner in Europe will be, it is Vodafone, as expected. Vodafone will use RealNetworks’ server software and will specify its RealOne Player for handsets made for its companies. This will form part of the Vodafone Live service, which has gained critical success in UK and Europe. Vodafone Live service is capable of photo snapshots, transmitting color pictures, 3-D game downloads and other entertaining features.
RNWK said that it beat 8 other companies, including archrival Microsoft, in landing the contract.
Update 1: According to a story in CBS MarketWatch, the start of the rollout will vary among the countries served by Vodafone, said Dan Sheeran, VP of marketing at RealNetworks. But the service already has been offered to some customers in Italy and Germany, he said.
While the partnership is not exclusive, RealNetworks does have an early lead over rivals including Microsoft, according to the story.
Update 2: According to a Reuters story, this pitches RNWK squarely against MSFT. “Real will be able to sell to many more operators and handset vendors on the back of this deal,” said industry analyst Neil Mawston at Strategy Analytics, in the story. He said Real was now also well ahead of rivals such as Israel’s Emblaze and PacketVideo.
Update 3: An NYT story wonders whether the market for streaming audio and vieo on handsets is big: There is, however, some evidence from Europe and Asia that such services can be popular, especially things like soccer highlights.