RealNetworks to launch “RealTime” news reader

by David Eckoff · 0 comments

According an article in PC Magazine, RealNetworks is launching a beta news reader. The service includes a web-based news and RSS reader at 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

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:

  • Relatively clean design and UI.
  • Easy to navigate.
  • Easy to add RSS feeds. For example, it was easy to add an RSS feed for CNN news headlines to my page.
  • Scrolling headline ticker in desktop toobar, with pushed headlines, while not a new concept, is addictive. Great for folks who like multitasking.
  • On the downside, RealTime’s default templates are not customizable for number of articles and page placement. In contrast, MyYahoo and Google Personalized Homepage are just as easy to use (perhaps even easier), are much more customizable, and quickly integrate with my personal email, calendar, and other information services.
  • Area for improvement: upon visiting, it wasn’t obvious what the service is about, or how to get started. A guided tour and getting started section could be helpful.

    Bottom line:

    I have to ask, what is the “customer job” that helps me solve, that I can’t already accomplish with My Yahoo or Google Personalized Homepage? At this stage, I would not choose 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.

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