The Pull of Push

Remember push? The technology that was supposed to be the future of the Web, before it withered and died before it really got off the ground? Well, it's back, if one can believe RealNetworks. And even if the company's new Quicksilver music service fails to resurrect push, at least it's given the media a good angle on RealNetworks' latest play.

Scheduled to launch in the middle of the year, Quicksilver uses BackWeb's push tools: It will allow users of RealJukebox to choose from a list of music genres and then have digital music automatically delivered when they're online but not using their full bandwidth. CNET quoted Dave Richard, RealNetworks' VP of consumer products, to the effect that push would sharply reduce the long download times that can make getting digital music frustrating. "Now, when you want to find high-fidelity music, it takes 15 to 20 minutes per song," he said.

"This is a seamless process. You subscribe and the music arrives." ZDNet's Jennifer Mack reported that the service will initially be free, but that, according to Richard, a fee-based premium service is likely in the future.

Analysts were split over whether the deal really means the rebirth of push.

ZDNet's Mack reported that Greg Blatnik, an industry analyst at Zona Research, said that the company's use of the word is likely just a publicity ploy. "By choosing something that was discredited in the past and saying, 'It's back,' I think that's just a way to get attention," he told her.

But according to CNET, Rebecca Nidositko, an analyst at the Yankee Group, was enthusiastic, saying push had simply been ahead of its time. "Push technology came out early in the Web's history when there weren't a lot of live applications for it so that businesses and consumers couldn't see what it (actually) does," Nidositko told CNET. "This (new service) will be interesting because it's going to get a lot of other companies interested in push again."

Perhaps the reporters who hyped push to the skies will get to say "I told you so" after all.

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