RealNetworks has its eye on bridging the compatibility gap between competing digital-music standards. At the UJA Federation's Music Visionary of the Year luncheon today (July 14) in New York, Real cha

RealNetworks has its eye on bridging the compatibility gap between competing digital-music standards.

At the UJA Federation's Music Visionary of the Year luncheon today (July 14) in New York, Real chairman/CEO Rob Glaser, who was an honoree at the event, said the company is working to solve the technology issues that limit consumer choices regarding digital music.

"Our big initiative is to solve this problem of the divided world we're in," he told Billboard.biz.

Glaser didn't offer specifics. However, he said that Real sees a market opportunity in facilitating interoperability between rival digital-music technologies. For instance, music from Apple Computer's iTunes Music Store -- the leading seller of digital tracks -- cannot be directly transferred to any portable device other than Apple's iPod.

At the same time, tracks from every other legitimate service -- a field that includes Napster, MusicMatch, RealNetworks, Wal-Mart and Sony Connect -- are incompatible with the market-leading iPod.

As previously reported, the recording industry has been lobbying tech companies to shake hands in the interest of promoting digital downloads. Some label executives are hoping for some level of compatibility among the leading digital-music services and devices by as soon as next year.

Visionary of the Year co-honoree David Munns, EMI Recorded Music vice chairman, had no comment on timing except to say that labels are "pushing hard" for technology companies to solve their compatibility issues quickly.

Munns told Billboard.biz that with the number of legitimate music consumers moving online growing steadily, technology companies cannot turn a blind eye to interoperability problems.

So far, market leader Apple has yet to license its FairPlay digital rights management technology to any competitors. In April, Apple rebuffed overtures from Real to make the iPod compatible with Real's RealPlayer Music Store.