RealNetworks widens lead over Windows Media Player

Benefiting from a software bundling deal announced in July with America Online (AOL) RealNetworks last year widened its lead over rival Microsoft in the media player arena, according to market researcher Jupiter Media Metrix.

In January, RealNetworks software was employed by 25.9 million US home Internet users, up 47.6 percent from 17.6 million a year earlier, the research found. Microsoft's Windows Media Player was used by 21.5 million people in January, up 31.2 percent from 16.4 million in January 2000.

While RealNetworks and Microsoft both saw their user bases grow, Apple Computer lost numbers. QuickTime software was used to watch video or listen to audio files by 7.29 million home Internet users in January, down 8.4 percent from 7.96 million in the year ago period, according to Media Metrix.

Media Players are also increasingly being installed on work computers, with RealNetworks holding the largest number of users there as well. QuickTime, surprisingly, is more popular in the office than at home.

In January 2001 RealNetworks software was used by 10.5 million US workers, up 52.1 percent from a year earlier. Windows Media Player had 9 million office users, up 39.9 percent. QuickTime's user base grew 8.5 percent to 1.9 million work users.

Ownership of multimedia players has been pushed to nearly 100 percent, mainly due to "aggressive bundling campaigns." RealNetwork's market share is still rising rapidly thanks to AOL.

An increasingly better user experience, greater connection speeds and more efficient content delivery are driving usage growth, Media Metrix said.

Overall, the number of US home media player users increased 33.2 percent, from 31.3 million a year ago to 41.7 million in January 2001.

Jupiter Media Metrix, in New York, can be reached at +1-212-780-6060 or on the Web at

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