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RealNetworks has relaxed commercial license terms to encourage more device makers to support its technology, which would in turn widen the potential customer-base for its content services.

Under the new licensing regime, third-parties are able to take any part of Real's Helix DNA playback system, including the various codecs and protocol stacks. To date, all these technologies have been available only as a single package - if you wanted the RealVideo codec, you had to take the player too.

RealNetworks hopes that device makers and their software development partners will continue to take the single package. Nokia, for instance, this week upgraded its licence to take in Helix DNA Player, ensuring future Series 60 and Series 80 phones will play a range of audio and video content - not just the RealVideo material that the likes of the 6600 can only handle today.

But for handset vendors which favour other playback applications, there is now the option to add support for Real-encoded content.

Real hopes the licence changes will help it compete more strongly with Microsoft's Windows Media system and Apple's iTunes in the battle for mobile handset makers and network operators. All three want to attract more users to content services, run by themselves or their mobile partners. The bulk of Real's revenues come from content sales, rather than from the tools that enable the delivery of this content. ®

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