Is It Time for RealNetworks to Switch Gears?

The technology for playing songs and video on the Internet used to be synonymous with one company: RealNetworks, founded in 1994 by a former Microsoft executive, Rob Glaser.Last week, Real released a new version of its flagship software, called RealPlayer SP. Like many Real products of late, the software offers some cool new features — but not many people are likely to notice them.Real, based in Seattle, offers a profound example of how markedly fortunes can change in the technology business. In the field it pioneered in the 1990s, distributing and playing music and video online, the company has been largely eclipsed by rivals like Microsoft, Apple and YouTube from Google.

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