According an article in PC Magazine, RealNetworks is launching a beta news reader. The service includes a web-based news and RSS reader at www.RealTime.com and an optional downloadable desktop toolbar.
My good friend Kevin Saito has been working on RealTime as a product manager. Kevin has a very broad set of business experiences at Real to draw on and he is a first-rate product manager. You can read Kevin’s blog about RealTime at http://blog.realtime.com
As of this posting, the RealTime service has not yet been formally announced by Real – I suspect PC Magazine mistakenly published this article during a traditional PR news embargo. (A news embargo is when journalists are given advance information about new products, with the understanding that articles shouldn’t be written until day of announcement.)
Since I read about it in the news and the product is now live, I checked out the RealTime service today, and here are my quick first impressions:
I have to ask, what is the “customer job” that RealTime.com helps me solve, that I can’t already accomplish with My Yahoo or Google Personalized Homepage? At this stage, I would not choose RealTime.com over MyYahoo or Google Personalized Homepage.
For now, the key differentiator is the RealTime desktop toolbar. But it isn’t clear to me that this is a sustainable advantage. Plus, I already use the Google Toolbar – even if RealTime has additional functionality, I’m not looking to have multiple toolbars on my desktop.
At the end of the day, Real is very smart about leveraging their media player reach for distribution of other Real services such as Rhapsody and distribution of third-party applications such as the Google Toolbar. That distribution, combined with the fact that this is still a greenfield space, means Real has an opportunity to gain some traction with RealTime.