Realnetworks invested $15 million in Backweb Technologies this week, with the aim of integrating the push technology vendor's software into its Realjukebox device.
In return for the investment Realnetworks will receive a 1.3 per cent stake in Backweb, which will develop a free subscription based music delivery service, known as Quicksilver, for Realjukebox users.
Realjukebox allows users to convert CDs into a digital file format that can be stored on hard drives. It can also locate and download music from the Internet. Realnetworks claims that more than 21 million users have downloaded the software since its launch last May.
The company says Quicksilver can transmit digital music to computers when users are not using their Net connection to its full capacity. This should not affect the PC's performance, it claims.
Realjukebox users simply choose the type of music they are interested in and they automatically receive tracks from artists of that type. They are also notified when the music reaches the desktop.
Rebecca Nidositko, an analyst with researcher the Yankee Group, said the service should be a hit with users. "This is great for those who use Realjukebox. Before they did not have an effective way to learn about new music, and now they do," she said.
The deal will also help generate interest in push technology, she added.
"Push technology came out when there weren't a lot of live applications for the Web and businesses and consumers couldn't see what it does.
"Backweb has been working on perfecting the technology and this alliance with a consumer-oriented company will give it a lot of exposure. Other companies will take notice and realise that it is something they can use. The time is right for push to make a comeback," she said.
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