The biggest vapor story of 2010 was the launching of a cloud-based music service by any of the big names: Apple, Google, et al. Guess who's the first one to the table? RealNetworks. Yup, the sleeper up there in the northwestern corner of the U.S. who seems to be the first (and quietest) about bringing us anything. RealNetworks launched the first all-in-one media plyer with the RealPlayer, which is the only one to play all of Apple's formats, Windows Media, even Flash videos, for pete's sake. Now they're in business again with the cloud-based Unifi.
They're calling it Unifi, as it will supposedly will unify your collection of music, videos and photos from multiple places...iPhone or Android phone, iTunes or your computer, or from Facebook and other social media and web services. It takes all of that media from all of those places, uploads it to the cloud, and lets you play it back from all of those places.
Add a new file from iTunes? It goes to your Unifi library. Download a MP3 from a band's web site? It goes to your Unifi library. So it goes for all of these devices, and they all become a "remote control" to get access to the media and play it back. It sounds too good to be true ... how did Real Networks pull of with Unifi what every other company that has tried failed to do?
Hypebot has a theory going that Real Networks skipped the heavy negotiation stage with the major labels and just launched Unifi, figuring that they would force the labels to hash it all out with them later. Real is more formidable player than others that have tried and died this scenario, with perhaps a deeper legal team. Time will tell.