RealNetworks has bought Sony NetServices, a joint venture between Sony DADC and Sony Europe, which provides white label digital music services to operators in 8 European countries. RealNetworks paid $9 million in cash, according to the 8-K form. I’m not sure exactly how widespread the business is but Sony NetServices has a deal with TeliaSonera in Finland and Vodafone across Germany, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Romania and the UK. RealNetworks has expanded the deal with Vodafone to a multi-year global deal that also adds other functionality, such as that obtained by Real when it purchased WiderThan. The services include an internet radio-style streaming music service (already available in France), as well as the ability to buy and download songs synchronized across, customers’ mobile device and their PC.
Now that RealNetworks has Vodafone as a customer, it has 12 music on demand customers with more than 196 million mobile subscribers in 11 countries, as well as providing services on an ASP basis to 75 communications carriers in 37 countries.
In addition to an easy entry into Europe, Sony NetServices provides a hosted service that supplements the network-embedded services RealNetworks gained with WiderThan and allows it to provide an end-to-end service. Sony NetServices’ platform (dubbed StreamMan) also offers a unique, highly personalized music experience that “learns” a subscriber’s music tastes over time and suggests music they may like. The customer can “teach” the music service their own personal likes and dislikes.