Real Networks buys Sony NetServices

Real steps it up again: After their acquisition of WiderThan last year (ring-backs, music-on-demand, etc) catapulted them to the forefront of mobile music services, they have now acquired Sony's NetServices division that runs Vodafone's audio-streaming services in Germany, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Romania and the UK as well as the one for TeliaSonera in Finland.

The whole audio-streaming thing still puzzles me though: the original commercial model for ringtones was clear but it was based on hardware barriers and constraints rather than the fantastic content (let's face it, monophonic ringtones were pretty horrific). However, with Bluetooth and memory cards now being on virtually every phone and storage of 1GB and more not raising an eyebrow anymore, this would seem doomed (also see my post on declining sales here).

One could argue that it is sensible to then move on to streaming but can anyone explain to me why I should pay for what basically is radio when even a shabby old Nokia 6230 comes with a stereo FM receiver that does the trick, too, and for free? That, I believe, is the difference to ringtones: I do have alternatives to getting to basically the same content - it then comes down to packaging, ease of use, etc and carriers haven't been particularly good at that, have they?


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