RealNetworks has just announced that it will be spinning off its Rhapsody music service into a separate, independently-operated company that will be based in downtown Seattle. This move follows the departure of founder Rob Glaser as CEO of the company, and about 150 RealNetworks employees will make the transition over to the new Rhapsody. Rhapsody, a joint venture between RealNetworks and Viacom MTV Networks, will no longer see it’s majority stake held by Real, which currently has a 51 percent share. RealNetworks says this is a move that is focused on streamlining company operations. Interesting, to say the least, since as far as we’re concerned, Rhapsody is the most interesting and mainstream product that RealNetworks has to offer.
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MTV Networks’ URGE and RealNetworks’ Rhapsody have announced that they will be combining forces to try to compete with iTunes. Naming the venture Rhapsody America, it will be accessible to computers, PMPs, and Verizon Wireless’ VCast. Beginning this September, MTV will push the new service and provide music playlists as well as other programming. Michael Bloom, former GM of URGE, will be in charge and said that for now, URGE customers can use both services. There is no word yet on how much Rhapsody America will cost its subscribers.
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Sonos, Inc. has updated its service and released its system software version 2.0. Teamed up with RealNetworks’ Rhapsody web service, the new version enables a direct link with millions of songs from all genres and thousands of radio stations without the need of an installed application or computer.
Sonos allows you this access by means of their wireless controller - see our Sonos review on The Bleeding Edge. Simply plug and play the controller in any of up to 32 rooms in your home or office, and you get tunes with the aid of a 3.5-inch color LCD screen, scroll wheel, and a button. Choose the same music for each room, or have blues in the bedroom and classical in the bathroom. You can even download music that has been taking up all that valuable space on your PC.
The controller permits you to pick your fave artist and Rhapsody can build your very own commercial-free radio station that will include other artists from the same music genre. Select from their top 100 song charts or be your own jock. This 2.0 upgrade allows you to update daily with audible content or podcasts or choose a randomized shuffle mode. Also featured is improved multinational Internet radio and alarm functionality, as well as French, Italian, and Spanish language support.
Sonos is available at a whopping price of $999.99, but think of it as a way of getting rid of obnoxious DJ’s, endless commercials, and hunting in vain for that track that got lost somewhere in the bowels of your PC. Can musical life get any better? Sure it can. Rhapsody is offering a 30-day free trial of its service with your new Sonos.
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