RealNetworks drops authoring support for Mac OS X

Most people don’t realize that a significant consequence of the Helix DNA platform is that RealNetworks has curtailed authoring support for non-Windows platforms. Most significantly, RealNetworks will no longer be providing authoring solutions for Mac OS X, the world’s second-most-popular OS.

Instead, RealNetworks intends to release a RealSystem 9 SDK for Mac OS X through the Helix community process before Q2’03. (It’s “Helix community” rather than “open-source community” because the most important bits of Helix remain closed-source.) This means that Mac OS X applications that use this SDK should be available in late 2003 or early 2004. Of course, that will be right around the time that new versions of the QuickTime, RealSystem and Windows Media are introduced, making RealNetworks’ half-hearted attempts at Mac OS X support almost pointless.

RealNetworks has also completely shut down its authoring efforts on Solaris, and strongly cut their support for Linux (where they’ve at least done a command-line encoder).

Can RealNetworks afford to drop support for popular platforms where Windows Media doesn’t dominate? No, but RealNetworks apparently no longer has the resources to fight the war on more than one front, and so they find themselves in a full retreat to Windows. Now that should be safe place for the final battle for the desktop…

[This story was modified on 12/19 to reflect that RealNetworks will be contributing to the Helix community Mac OS X SDK effort, which is not how I understood their it even after attempting to confirm their intent. My apologies for misinterpreting RealNetworks’ statements. — CW]