Real Networks (RNWK) Wendesday announced the release of a free upgrade to its popular Real Player application. But the importance of this beta release, called Real Player SP, isn't just about the player itself. It’s about the technology that allows it to take video from the Web or a computer and put it through an on-the-fly conversion for playback on other devices, including the Blackberry and Palm Pre.
That becomes a big deal because one of the biggest selling points of the iPhone is the simplicity that comes with transferring multimedia files between the computer and mobile device. As Blackberry maker Research in Motion (RIMM), Palm (PALM) and Google (GOOG) go head-first into the competitive smartphone business, the ability to easily bring video to the device becomes critical.
The new Real Player also has a feature that allows videos to be shared via Twitter, Facebook or email with an extra click. It also comes with some customization options, which allows for specific device profiles or settings for the video format or size. And it creates audio-only version of videos for playback on audio-only devices.
The company said the player is designed to format for the existing media players on the various devices so that the user doesn’t have to download and install anything from the device itself.
For now, it’s just for Windows but Real says a Mac version is expected by the year’s end. There’s also a premium version for $39.99 that offers support for features such as DVD playback and DVD burning. It’s also worth noting that it will only work with Web video that is not DRM-protected.