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RealNetworks aims for comeback with new video software

Rob Glaser, Chairman of RealNetworks, speaks during the Reuters Global Technology Summit in New York, May 18, 2011 in this file picture. REU
Rob Glaser, Chairman of RealNetworks, speaks during the Reuters Global Technology Summit in New York, May 18, 2011 in this file picture. REU

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - RealNetworks Inc, an early warhorse of the internet era that has stumbled in recent years, aims to reverse its fortunes with video software and storage services that enable people to readily share videos among different devices.

Rob Glaser, who returned to the company he founded as interim CEO last year, said the new RealPlayer Cloud offering would leverage the still-large installed base of RealPlayer personal computer video software, and potentially establish the platform for a new push into media content and other services.

The new software addresses the problem of incompatibility among video formats on various devices, allowing customers to upload a video which can then be viewed and shared on a PC, a tablet, an iPhone, an Android device or a TV set.

Up to two gigabytes of storage will be available for free, with fees kicking in for additional storage.

"The business model of 'freemium,' there are many examples of it working, especially for storage," Glaser said in an interview, citing the example of Dropbox.

Glaser said the RealNetwork brand still had considerable power, noting that some 100,000 people had signed up to be notified about an iPhone RealPlayer from a simple solicitation on the RealNetworks mobile website.

RealNetworks was launched in 1994 and originally provided tools and services for streaming audio and then streaming video. But the company has struggled to evolve in a fast-changing internet media market, spinning out its Rhapsody subscription music service and moving into the gaming business via acquisitions.

Glaser, who founded the company in 1994 after a 10-year stint at Microsoft Corp, stepped aside as CEO in 2010 only to return in 2012 after two subsequent CEOs quickly departed the Seattle-based company.

(Reporting by Jonathan Weber; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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