Dive Tech: RealNetworks Unifi's Media in the Cloud
Many Web 1.0 veterans remember RealNetworks as the company that played all those MP3s we ripped from our CD collection. We distinctly remember listening to some Beastie Boys on a RealPlayer while cruising MySpace and updating our GeoCities site.
Today, the Web media staple is releasing, and demoing live onstage, its newest product–named Unifi.
The cloud media service automatically catalogs your collection (a la iTunes) and lets you stream it to any device, on demand.
11:35 am: RealNetworks CEO Bob Kimball and VP Peter Kellogg-Smith take the stage to introduce Unifi.
11:36 am: Kimball says Unifi is “a cloud media management service that treats every device as a first-class citizen.”
11:37 am: Now they are demoing the Web interface. This view is heavy on the album art, but separates out different devices you have synched–so you can see what you have on your iPad or your Android phone from the same device.
11:39 am: Now we are seeing albums playing on the network.
Interface merges media that’s on a device to the cloud. You can also pull content from one device to the cloud to another device.
So, if you have a song on your iPad, and were away from it, you could call the song to the cloud from your Android phone–as long as that device is on and connected.
11:42 am: Walt and Kara pounce on the DRM implications. The RealNetworks guys say they will respect the DRM rules, barring multiple copies when they apply.
11:43 am: Now they turn to photos.
11:43 am: The photo is snapped, and it uploads to the cloud, much like taking a picture inside DropBox.
There is a connection issue, but the intent is to show how the photo would quickly appear on all the connected devices.
11:45 am: Now they open iTunes and are showing how iTunes playlists are synched to the application.
The RealNetworks guys keep using the “librarian” metaphor for the process they use to organize the cloud-synched data.
11:47 am: They say the “librarian” only synchs things every five minutes, unless you force a synch. They say it is a processor-intensive application and so they “put her to sleep.”
11:48 am: Connection issues plague the demo, but the RealNetworks team says the service will be available in Q1 of 2011 and it will be freemium.