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RealNetworks CEO urges Steve Jobs to open iPod

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By Dennis Lloyd

Publisher, iLounge
Published: Tuesday, March 23, 2004
News Categories: iPod

“RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser has a message for Apple Computer chief Steve Jobs: Open iPod or shrivel. Glaser, the feisty founder of the Internet entertainment network, said during a panel discussion Tuesday at PC Forum here that Apple is creating problems for itself by using a file format that forces consumers to buy music from Apple’s own iTunes site. (CNET Networks, publisher of News.com, last week acquired EDventures, which sponsors PC Forum.)

Because Apple’s iPod music player does not support other proprietary music formats and does not license its own format to rivals, Real’s Rhapsody and other song sites are blocked from easily reaching iPod users.

‘Apple’s (market) share will go down if they continue to do this,’ Glaser said. ‘The only way to presently put songs on an iPod is to (buy) them from iTunes.’

‘There is a good opportunity to say to Steve, ‘You’ve done a good job of promoting this thing, but now one of two bad things will happen,’ Glaser said. ‘One, Apple’s market share will go down to its historical single-digit levels, or two, it will slow down the development of this market.’”

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Comments

1

I hate Real and Glaser, but he’s in the right.  Apple is letting AAC drive the bus, when it should be the iPod at the wheel. 

Consumers don’t care, for the most part, which codec is used so long as they don’t have to worry about where they bought their tunes.  Apple’s wrong to make consumers choose.

Apple should open up the iPod, sell WMA and AAC from ITMS, and THEN push the back end (companies, developers, etc) to adopt AAC.  That way AAC can win and it won’t be up to consumers to make it happen.

Posted by matthew on March 23, 2004 at 10:40 AM (PDT)

2

“‘The only way to presently put songs on an iPod is to (buy) them from iTunes.’”

Tell that to the 1172 songs on my iPod which I either ripped myself, bought from other services and converted to MP3, or “stole” via P2P networks.  Only 12 of my songs were bought from iTMS.  If you’re too dumb to convert a song you bought on another service to the format needed for the iPod, then you’re probably too dumb to be in charge of a major corporation… or so you’d think.

Posted by people are dumb on March 23, 2004 at 10:43 AM (PDT)

3

I agree People, only ONE of the songs on my ipod is from Itunes and I changed into an MP3 as well.  My music is from all over the place.  I dont see any problem using the Ipod as my player for music.

Posted by DE on March 23, 2004 at 11:00 AM (PDT)

4

I’m in Canada - so I can’t buy from the iTMS. Yet I have had no problems keeping my two iPods completely filled. The iTMS is not the only reason to own an iPod.

I’ve got plenty of CD’s kicking around the house to keep it happy.

Posted by Spike on March 23, 2004 at 11:01 AM (PDT)

5

Rhapsody costs $5-$10 a month for a subscription to listen and another $.79 per song to burn to a CD… doesn’t actually offer downloads that’d work on a portable flash or HD based player, ipod or otherwise, anyway.

snippet from a cnet article (october 2003, so a little bit dated):

RealNetworks’ music subscribers, including Rhapsody members, now total 250,000.

iTunes recently passed 50 million songs and is doing 2.5 million a week now. So maybe 2 million bucks a week in sales (allowing for giveaways and albums)... on track for about 130 million a year and rising… compared to Rhapsody’s 30 million a year (and that assumes all users are on the $10 per month service, when it’s more like 30%).

Who’s going to wither, here?

And the post from people are dumb above goes without saying. These guys love trying to portray the ipod as an iTMS only solution… and of course, it isn’t.

Posted by JC on March 23, 2004 at 11:06 AM (PDT)

6

People,

You bring up the obvious objection for sure; you don’t have to buy ITMS products to listen to music on an iPod.

That said, I think Apple could only benefit from opening the platform to, at least, WMA. 

Put it this way, what’s the harm?  I’m definitely curious.

http://homepage.mac.com/cherrypop/

Posted by matthew on March 23, 2004 at 11:25 AM (PDT)

7

Oh, he means “Steve, please help us turn our ##### into something people will use if you open the iPod”?
Yeah, that’s it.
Loser.

Posted by sb on March 23, 2004 at 11:28 AM (PDT)

8

What a ridiculous load of garbage—he must be real desperate for his platform to be adopted by someone.  Apple has no reason to open up the iPod any more than it is—cuz I mean after all, it already supports MP3 and AAC, which are both fairly “open.”  I think it’s up to other online music stores to release their content in either MP3 or AAC, so it can be played on the industry-leading player.  Apple’s music store is clearly the best out there—why would any iPod users even think twice about another service?  All of the other worthwhile services use non-DRM MP3 files, so I can use them (http://www.bleep.com comes to mind).


—-
http://thewired.blogs.com/teotwawki
The techno-mediated cultural conspiracy

Posted by Nicky G on March 23, 2004 at 11:30 AM (PDT)

9

Apple’s the leader in both players and online stores. Why should they open anything up? Someday yes—but the day when that makes sense it a long way off.

Meanwhile, for customers, you get the best player AND the best store—no pain there smile And if you made an early mistake and bought some Real or WMA songs, rip them back from CD to iTunes and move on.

The harm in letting Microsoft WMA take over is obvious. Microsoft abuses its power when it can get away with doing so.

Posted by Nagromme on March 23, 2004 at 11:30 AM (PDT)

10

Are you kidding me?  How much more open can you get than MP3?  iTunes (as well as other iPod loading mechanism) easily allow you to import MP3’s. 

That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read.  The problem is I can’t tell if the problem is that he’s so out of sync with the tech side of things that he really doesn’t understand the issues put in front of him, or if he’s just so desperate that this is one last gasp.  Either way, it’s just sad.

Posted by anth on March 23, 2004 at 11:34 AM (PDT)

11

It’s pretty obvious that he doesn’t care about other music files.  He just wants someone to finally accept that crappy real player.  Just because someone is making millions from it doesn’t give him a reason to ##### now does it

Posted by SOmeone on March 23, 2004 at 11:37 AM (PDT)

12

Rob Glaser knows a thing or two about eroding market share - just look at the track record of his product.

Regardless, I have to admit, I wish Apple would consider opening the iPod up to other formats, simply for the convenience of it. But it’s really not a big issue for me. Given a choice I’d still choose for .AAC over any other format.

Posted by jcs on March 23, 2004 at 11:41 AM (PDT)

13

Who’s got the exclusive format here? You can encode anything purchased from ITMS to work with any other player, but you can’t play WMA on anything but WMP or Real on anything but Real. Sounds like desperate hypocrisy. Besides, who would want any other format anyway?

Real and Microsoft need to open up to AAC or they may as well pull out of entertainment. Their formats suck and we all know that.

Posted by Wolf on March 23, 2004 at 11:41 AM (PDT)

14

BTW. Apple is selling their own product. They don’t need to be a dealer of everybody’s product. Leave that to Wal-Mart. If other sites want to sell AAC, that’s fine. But Apple sells Apple; it’s not a department store.

Posted by Wolf on March 23, 2004 at 11:45 AM (PDT)

15

The potential pitfall for Apple is that newbies to the world of MP3 might read stuff like this (we’ve seen it elsewhere too) and be scared away from buying an iPod.  That’s actually also a pitfall for the consumer cuz there’s gonna be some people making bad buying decisions.

iPod is King.

Posted by zippy on March 23, 2004 at 11:55 AM (PDT)

16

hmm…. let’s see here…..

#1 Music Store
#1 MP3 Player

Something tells me steve knows what he’s doing
just my opinion

Posted by Jesse.P on March 23, 2004 at 11:55 AM (PDT)

17

Apple will lose this battle, but it’s not REAL that will beat them.

The RIAA is the one who will be calling the shots in the future.  They don’t want their products to be hampered by any one company.

As the download business grows and people are put off by the requirement of buying music from specific sites for use with specific players, they RIAA will use its weight to create a standard.

My money is on WMA winning this battle.

Remember that this is an iPod site and most users here are focussing on the portable players, but a bigger share of the market will be home/pc use of digital music in the future, if it’s not already.

Everything you download to your iPod must pass through a computer, and like it or not 95% of those computers are PCs.

Posted by BigSid in Los Angeles on March 23, 2004 at 11:59 AM (PDT)

18

plus with apple opening up to wma format would mean having to pay a fee to microsoft which is complete crap.
I will love to see the day when microsoft cracks and has to pay loyalties to apple for the use of aac

Posted by an0therdumbsn on March 23, 2004 at 12:03 PM (PDT)

19

I have never bought a song from iTMS, tho’ I may sooner or later, but that hasn’t stopped me from having close to 2,000 songs on my iPod.

I’d heard that formats like WMA don’t play nice with mulitple machines or mp3 players (licensing or something to keep people from sharing files). 

I’m happy with my iPod and even if ITMS goes down, I’ll still be happy with my iPod.  ‘nuff said.

Posted by lalo on March 23, 2004 at 12:07 PM (PDT)

20

Zippy-

You hit the nail on the head, many consumers are put off by articles like this, and in fact they should be.  The iPod should be able to play every format out there.  The highest priced player on the market should offer the most benefits along with the most style.

Of course, I see the benefit to Apple in holding their position, but I really don’t understand why anyone on this site would see benefit to the consumer by the iPod not accepting all formats.

The reality is that Apple is scared.  They want to hold on to their market share, because they know historically they’ve always lost it.

The music industry is too big for Apple to direct by something as simple as holding on to proprietary formats/DRM.

They should offer choice (Think Different) and allow account at ITMS to sell any format you want.

They won’t let others offer their DRM scheme because they know others are in a better position to capitalize on the marketplace.

Wal-Mart is in a much better position to dominate the download industry than Appple is.  Microsoft is in a better position.  Amazon is, too.

Apple is flat out scared and their fear is hurting consumers.

Posted by BigSid in Los Angeles on March 23, 2004 at 12:09 PM (PDT)

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