Real Gunning for iTunes

Another week, another RealNetworks/Apple story: this time streaming leader and iPod “hacker” is offering cut price tunes whilst promoting freedom of choice for music consumers.

In order to entice some of iTune’s customers to the RealOne service, Real are embarking on a huge marketing campaign that will concentrate on their new iPod compatibility, sneakily coupled with a sale.

Tracks from the Real music store will cost US$0.49 (€0.40) for a limited period, with albums half price at US$4.99 (€4). This double whammy might just tempt users away from iTunes – until Apple break Harmony’s iPod compatibility in the next update, that is.

Enticing users away from their favourite online music stores is difficult as it’s not as simple as getting punters to cross the road from Virgin to HMV – software has to be changed, tracks are incompatible and players won’t play all formats. You have to get your customers early before and make them build a library that they’ll be reluctant to abandon.

Whilst a sale will generate new interest in RealNetworks’ products, many users will try a wait and see approach as Apple have made it clear that they’re not happy about Harmony’s approach and intend to scupper it at the earliest opportunity.

We’re not quite sure if it’s a spoof or not, but RealNetworks have also launched a blog-style site featuring the “Rock on Rob!” weekly Q&A with Rob Glaser (I’m embarrassed just typing this in). The site features several anti-Apple postings from around the net, and even a petition. The site is not conspiciously branded by RealNetworks, but we see what they’re trying to achieve.

Freedom of Music Choice

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?