MTV, Real Networks, Verizon Wireless take aim at iTunes

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MTV, Real Networks, Verizon Wireless take aim at iTunes

Seattle (WA) – MTV Networks, Real Networks and Verizon today announced that they will be forming “Rhapsody America”, a new company that will be offering an “integrated digital music experience” for PC, portable music players and cellphones.

According to an announcement made this morning the new service will combine Real Network’s Rhapsody music subscription and download platform, MTV’s experience gained from knowledge through its joint-venture with Microsoft in URGE and Verizon Wireless’ Vcast service.

The companies declined to comment specific product features, but indicated that Rhapsody’s feature set will be carried over to Verizon’s service while MTV will be leveraged as marketing power within the deal. MTV said that its URGE music service, which was created in collaboration with Microsoft, will remain available in Windows Media Player 11 “until further notice.”

Rob Glaser, chief executive officer of Real Networks, noted that Rhapsody’s recently announced trial to offer DRM-free music from Universal will carry over into the new service.

Financial details were not announced this morning; however, Glaser told journalists that the company will reveal more information about its investment in this new platform during a conference call at 5 pm EST today.

The word “iTunes” was notably absent during the press briefing. However, all three companies highlighted the not only their intention to smoothly integrate music products into a service that apparently will be accessible through PC and mobile devices, but also the sheer marketing horsepower that can be gained from MTV. Describing the new offering as an “unparalleled service”, the three companies are aiming the new “Rhapsody America” squarely against Apple and its iTunes platform.