November 18, 2002 12:51 PM PST

RealNetworks hits play for Palm music

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People will be able store and play back music on the newest Palm handheld, thanks to a deal announced Monday between software company RealNetworks and the device maker.

Under the alliance, Seattle-based RealNetworks will provide free downloads of RealOne Player Mobile software designed for Palm's upcoming device, the Tungsten T handheld. With the high-end device plus the mobile audio player, Tungsten T owners will be able to store and play audio files encoded using RealAudio and MP3 technology.

"Now, with the added audio multimedia feature from RealNetworks? RealOne Player, users will be able to download, store and play back news, entertainment and music," Palm spokesman Ken Wirt said in a statement.

The financial terms of the deal, which was announced at the Comdex Fall 2002 trade show in Las Vegas, were not disclosed.

In late October, Palm unveiled two new handhelds, including the Tungsten T, designed for mobile professionals and businesses. The Tungsten T is a color-screen wireless device that runs the new version 5.0 of the Palm operating system; it is expected to sell for $499. Initial shipments will begin this month in Europe, with the handheld hitting U.S. shores in the first quarter of 2003. Palm is promoting its Tungsten T devices with a $10 million advertising campaign over the next six months.

Playing music will likely be a drain on the battery of the Tungsten T, despite its faster ARM-based processor and new operating system. Still, people can conserve power by using the device's screen autodimming feature, according to RealNetworks.

The deal is RealNetworks' first with Palm. The company based its RealOne Player Mobile audio player on the Helix DNA platform, a software engine it introduced earlier this year that developers can use to build multiformat media players.

RealNetworks is working with developers to create a client that will work with other Palm handhelds as well. For example, it already has similar deals with Compaq, for the iPaq, and with NEC, for its MobilePro P300 handheld computers.

People using the Tungsten T handheld will be able to download the RealOne Player Mobile in December. It will also be shipped with certain future Palm handhelds.


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