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Multimedia is opening up a vast new frontier for software companies, thanks to the rapid growth of broadband connections to desktop computers and ever more capable cell-phones and wireless PDAs. RealNetworks is about to find out if its open-source gambit is going to pay off, as the first wave of Helix-powered hardware reaches the market. So far, only a handful of such devices have been released, including the Sony Vega television in Japan and the palmOne Treo 650 smart phone in the United States. No doubt other software vendors are watching closely; an open-source model that compels all developers to assign copyright back to the "mother ship" could soon become the preferred way to nurture communities of developers.