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Originally published May 16, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified May 16, 2007 at 3:46 PM

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RealNetworks buys Sony music unit, expanding wireless service

Continuing to bolster its wireless business, RealNetworks said today that it has acquired an arm of Sony that provides music services to...

Seattle Times technology reporter

Continuing to bolster its wireless business, RealNetworks said today that it has acquired an arm of Sony that provides music services to mobile operators in Europe.

The Seattle digital media company has acquired Sony NetServices for $9 million in cash.

Sony NetServices has developed a music service, previously called StreamMan, that offers users the choice of downloading music or streaming it directly to a phone or computer. The service is available in eight countries in Europe, mainly through telecommunications giant Vodafone.

The acquisition adds to RealNetworks' ability to offer mobile operators such technologies as on-demand music and video, games and ringback tones — the songs a person hears while waiting for a call to be answered.

The deal is part of a broader agreement between RealNetworks and Sony DADC, a digital media technology company. As part of that agreement, RealNetworks will incorporate content from Sony DADC in its European wireless business.

RealNetworks said it would allow Sony NetServices to continue operating in its current location in Salzburg, Austria. The unit will now be called RealNetworks GmbH.

Last September, RealNetworks announced it was acquiring South Korean company WiderThan for $350 million. WiderThan helps carriers sell ringback tones and music download services. The deal was designed to help RealNetworks integrate technology such as the Rhapsody online music service into its mobile offerings.

With these two acquisitions under its belt, RealNetworks said its mobile partners can now offer music in any form to their subscribers, including ringtones, ringback tones and music on demand.

The acquisition announcement didn't have a dramatic effect on RealNetworks' share price this morning. Shares were trading at $8.39 just after 10 a.m., up three cents from Tuesday's close.

Kim Peterson: 206-464-2360 or kpeterson@seattletimes.com

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