Google, Mozilla, RealNetworks Seal Software Bundling Deal

Google said Wednesday that it has renewed its existing software bundling agreement with RealNetworks, in which Real will continue to offer the Google Toolbar with RealNetworks applications. The new, expanded deal also includes plans to distribute Mozilla’s Firefox Web browser. The plan builds on what Google and RealNetworks call a “successful” two-year relationship under which Real has distributed millions of Google Toolbars to Internet users around the world.

“Real and Google share a common passion for innovation that has enhanced the Web experience,” said Rob Glaser, chairman & CEO for RealNetworks. “The Google Toolbar has been a welcome addition to Real customers because Google simplifies and enhances how they interact with the Web. We think our customers will feel the same way about the Firefox Web browser.”

Real Benefits for Google

The Google Toolbar and Firefox will soon be available options for customers of RealPlayer, the Rhapsody music service and RealArcade games. Users who download these services will be given the option also to install either the Google Toolbar or Firefox or both. The Google Toolbar is a very popular addition to a Web browser that allows consumers to quickly conduct a Web search.

Real regularly distributes more than two million pieces of software a day worldwide, making it a synergistic partner for both Google and Mozilla. What’s more, the creator of digital media services and software has a reach that crosses the consumer and enterprise markets.

“Real has been one of Google’s most important distribution partners for the past two years, and we are delighted to broaden and deepen that relationship,” said Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google. “Google and Real will continue to work together in innovative ways to further improve the Web experience.”

Google Gets Aggressive

Real is not Google’s only distribution partner. Google has become more aggressive with its distribution strategy in recent months, inking agreements with PC maker Dell and software maker Adobe.

Google’s goal is to make its Web search software pervasive. With Microsoft coming to market with a new operating system and new version of Internet Explorer with built-in search features, Google hopes to beat the software giant to the punch with distribution deals such as this and others.

Mozilla is in a similar position. The company’s open source Firefox Web browser has gained momentum while Microsoft has strung out development of its next-generation browser for several years. With Internet Explorer 7 nearing final release, Mozilla is redoubling its efforts to set the Web ablaze with its alternative browser.

What Consumers Want

Firefox, which recently surpassed the 200 million download mark, owes its popularity in part to its simiplicity for consumers and features such as pop-up blocking, tabbed browsing and enhanced Web security.

However, while it’s clear that more and more consumers do want Firefox, that does not necessarily mean consumers of media players like Real will want an automatic download of it, according to JupiterResearch analyst Michael Gartenberg.

“The question is whether consumers really want this or not. You go to download the RealPlayer and all of the sudden you are getting a Web browser. It’s going to be interesting to see how consumers respond to getting software they may not want,” Gartenberg told TechNewsWorld.

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