"RealOne is a
great application
for driving broadband media."
——Joel Christensen, Intel


RealOne Player To Be Built Into Intel PCs—And Rob Glaser’s Face Will Glower at You When You Boot Up
How do you keep them down on the farm once they’ve seen Morpheus?

The folks at RealNetworks and Intel, who have pacted to put the former’s RealOne media player on the circuit boards of the latter’s PCs, clearly believe the key is getting consumers as soon as they turn on their computers.

The RealOne player delivers a proprietary version of the MusicNet subscription service, of which Real is the sole tech partner. But it also hosts news, sports and other programming from the likes of CNN, E!, the NBA, FOXSports.com and NASCAR.com, to name but a few, in "a fully immersive environment." Which sounds a little scary to us, but what do we know?

The player, which its makers are hyping as "an all-in-one service and technology platform," will be positioned to assist Intel PC owners with downloading, streaming and "management" (including content-owner restrictions) of music and other media. Real’s affiliation with Intel will also enable multimedia streaming on mobile devices. But when, for the love of God? When?

Of course, Real hopes that the familiarity achieved by being part of users’ daily digital media experiences will translate into a willingness to pony up for subscriptions to its various pay services. Speaking of which, Real is hosting a big L.A. shindig, "One Gold Night," on 3/5 to celebrate the rollout of the Gold version of RealOne.

A 3/5 release from the company announces that the Gold release boasts the TurboPlay feature, which claims "near-instant playback" of media with little or no buffering by "intelligently utilizing available bandwidth on a broadband connection." Which is exactly the opposite of what you did by logging onto hitsdailydouble.com.

The release also hypes a new sub service, SuperPass, which includes, among other things, the baseball-highlights offering Consdensed Games and E! Entertainment's "best of" red carpet Oscar archives. Which means you can watch E! host and HITS mucky-muck Dave Adelson over and over and over. Heaven!

Obviously, the primary targets for the Real/Intel combination are consumers who’ve not yet experienced the file-swapping online wilderness. Given that people tend to stick with what’s easiest, this approach may result in greater loyalty to Real’s media products. Even so, it will undoubtedly be a challenge to generate the kind of astronomical subscription revenues once predicted in rosy research scenarios, given the vastly expanding audience for unrestricted, unauthorized P2P services.

But who are we to rain on anyone’s parade? Check out the ecstatic quotes attributed to execs at the two companies.

"We couldn’t be happier about extending our relationship with Intel," declared Real’s Steve Banfield. "The addition of RealOne Player to Intel’s motherboards will allow both PC manufacturers and end-users to quickly install and use the single best multimedia application on the Web. Well, the best non-porn application, in any case."

"RealOne is a great application for driving broadband media," added Intel’s Joel Christensen. "At least that’s what we’re telling our shareholders."

Real's deal with Compaq late last year (see story, 12/13) only put the player on the latter's PC desktops.