The Real End

RealNetworks has ended its three-week “Freedom of Choice” online music promotion. According to the Seattle-based company over 3 million songs were purchased during the sale.

The company, which provides software and services for sending and receiving audio and visual content over the Internet, will maintain the promotional prices of 49c for the top 10 songs. The promotional price saw tunes being sold at half the price on Apple Computer’s leading iTunes Music Store. At present ITunes sells around 4 million songs weekly and over 16 million songs monthly. Rolling Stone magazine will help compile the top 10 list of songs along with the most popular songs played weekly on the Rhapsody subscription service and the top downloads at the RealPlayer® Music Stop.

According to Rob Glaser, CEO and founder of RealNetworks; “We are the only place consumers can buy music and enjoy it on any popular portable device, we offer the best price on the Top Ten, and we provide the most compelling subscription music service, Rhapsody.”

The remainder of the catalogue will revert to the company’s standard price of 99 cents a song and $9.99 for an album.

Real claim that their market share doubled over the period, from 10% to 20%. Apple responded by saying that this was unlikely as iTunes Music Store had sold more tracks than usual over the same period.

The main challenge for RealNetworks is keeping customers as the prices revert back to their former price. Apart from Apple, other competitors  for RealNetworks include Napster, MusicMatch, Wal-Mart  and Microsoft. RealNetworks shares fell 4 per cent this week in Thursday trading. Meanwhile Apple Computer shares fell 2 per cent to just under $35.64.