Sprint Partners With Real Networks For Music Service

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Credit: Flickr/mightykenny

Sprint is taking some another step to up its game in mobile content. A day after saying it would launch an app store powered by GetJar, the mobile operator today announced a deal with RealNetworks (NSDQ: RNWK) to streamline its music services.

The deal will see Sprint (NYSE: S) using RealNetworks’ Media Entertainment Platform to sell ringtones, ringback tones and full-track music. These had been offered as separate services in the past.

For RealNetworks, this fits in with their legacy strategy of selling more wholesale services to third-party companies to deliver media, rather than being the content company itself: the news comes days after Real announced it would be spinning off its digital music service Rhapsody, a joint venture with Viacom’s MTV Networks.

Real works with other mobile operators on music services already. In Europe it’s teamed up with Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) in nine countries for different services: in the UK for the Vodafone Music service; in Spain for a flat-rate music service; and in Germany on a ringback tone service. It also powers a music service for SFR in France.

Enhancing mobile content services builds on an area that Sprint Nextel wants to drive more revenue growth in the future. In yesterday’s quarterly results, where the company announced a $980 million loss, the company said that $19.50 of its ARPU is coming from data on its CDMA network. That may be a healthy 35 percent of its overall ARPU of $55, but that will need to grow quite a bit more before it pulls Sprint into profit.

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