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RealNetworks kicks off “Freedom of Choice” campaign

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By Dennis Lloyd

Publisher, iLounge
Published: Monday, August 16, 2004
News Categories: Digital Media reports “in a move aimed squarely at luring iTunes customers, RealNetworks today announced that it has slashed song pricing to 49 cents and album pricing to $4.99 for a limited time. The price cuts are part of the company’s new “Freedom of Choice” marketing campaign to tout its Harmony technology, which allows songs purchases from the RealNetworks Music Store to be played on Apple’s iPod. The high-profile print, radio, and online advertising campaign kicks off Tuesday with a full-page ad in The New York Times that reads: “Half the price of Apple. Welcome to freedom of choice.” The ads also show an illustration of an iPod made to look like an open padlock. In addition, RealNetworks has launched a very anti-Apple blog. “This community site will provide a forum where consumers can learn about compatibility issues and discuss the issues with other digital music fans,” the company says.”

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Honestly, I’m ambivalent about Harmony. I always believe competition is good for consumers, so more choices is good. Real’s “freedom” however seems hypocritical. How can they claim “freedom” when their service only support one OS? If it bad that to use the iPod you’d have to have iTunes, isn’t it just as bad that to use Harmony you have to have Windows?

Posted by Starboard on August 17, 2004 at 7:33 AM (PDT)


I wouldn’t let programs from Real OR Apple near my computer.  But i LOVE my ipod!  Hopefully RA will lose a lot of money selling songs below cost.  The sooner they’re outta bizness, the better imo. 

Posted by JP on August 17, 2004 at 8:24 AM (PDT)


QUOTING “Imagine buying a CD player at Best Buy that only plays CD’s from Best Buy and no other store! If that happened, people would go nuts. This is exactly the same thing, but most of you are too in love with Steve Jobs to actually admit that Apple is *GASP* wrong and that somebody else is right.”

So don’t buy music from iTunes then, or don’t buy an ipod - I am so sick of this argument - ESPECIALLY when iTunes tracks can be played on any player in the world that plays MP3s.  Sure it takes extra time, but every track sold on iTunes can be burned to a CD and then ripped into MP3 format, thus allowing it to be played ANYWHERE!! 

What if the United States made currency that you could only use for purchases in the US? What if CD players only played CDs?  What if you bought a cake mix that required eggs and milk to be added?  What if an Ebay auction required paypal payment? 

If you don’t like the ipod/itunes link then fine - buy something else, there already is freedom of music choice - buy some other MP3 player if you are so concerned about the iTunes digital download policy.

Posted by k-rock on August 17, 2004 at 8:32 AM (PDT)


all Metallica albums for 4.99 !!
Great Deal plays well on ipod

Posted by mariolzc on August 17, 2004 at 8:53 AM (PDT)


Boy Oh Boy…
I just read through a few of the comments posted on real and today I feel proud to be an iPod owner - and an American.
I am suprise they went ahead with such a scheam after they saw the Dell’s promotion tacktic not work at all - the discount on a Dell Jukebox if you send in your iPod. Remember the ridicule and cheap trickery they received. But NO. Real had to take it a step ahead of that and now they are paying for it.

Posted by djjasman on August 17, 2004 at 8:56 AM (PDT)


“unless we have open standards people are going to get put off buying mp3 portables and joining the services. One site that currently allows compatibility across the board is that’s because it’s mp3”

Real should do that then, and not make a cheap hack…

Posted by furdimouse on August 17, 2004 at 8:57 AM (PDT)


QUOTING “Imagine buying a CD player at Best Buy that only plays CD’s from Best Buy and no other store! If that happened, people would go nuts. This is exactly the same thing, but most of you are too in love with Steve Jobs to actually admit that Apple is *GASP* wrong and that somebody else is right.”

This is an INCORRECT comparison isn’t it…

What this is saying is that if you buy an iPod it can only play music bought from iTunes. This is what that quote is saying right? Because that is wrong. Isn’t an iPod able to play mp3 music and encoded CDs?

I think albrad84 should think twice before writing a quote that he doesnt read 10 times before posting.

Let me help him…

I THINK what he meant is:

You buy a CD Player from Best Buy that NOT ONLY plays CDs from Best Buy but CDs from any other store that carried the universaly used codec (mp3s) as well as Best Buys own unique codec (AAC). And anyone else that has a generic CD player cannot buy from the Best Buy CD collection.

I think that is what he meant.

If this is the case then the argument is not on the iPod, which does gives us freedom of choice (AAC or MP3), but on iTunes. If this is the case then he should keep his mouth shut because we are not talking about iTunes here. We are talking about Real trying to impose their codecs by cheap tricks.

I’m a windows users myself but isnt it the worst of the bunch that always ends up posting the most obnoxious opinions in any discussion.

Posted by djjasman on August 17, 2004 at 9:10 AM (PDT)



QUOTE: “eventually the digital music business needs to agree on a single standard format that will play on all players and this is the first step.” (albrad84)

Ummm isnt that standard called “MP3”.

Just guessing here.

Posted by djjasman on August 17, 2004 at 9:14 AM (PDT)


quote furdimouse - “Real should do that then, and not make a cheap hack…”

Well not a lot of major labels are ofay with mp3.  We definately need “1” open standard which works with everything some people on this forum at least agree there, how do you know it’s cheap hack,  I don’t work for real networks but I love it when the truth behind things gets exposed,  ipod is not all whiter than white smile look at the mini anyone for pink. 

quote - “Boy Oh Boy…
I just read through a few of the comments posted on real and today I feel proud to be an iPod owner - and an American.” 

I bet you drive a mustang and have a tatoo of an apple mac icon on your arm as well wink 

Posted by musonic on August 17, 2004 at 9:30 AM (PDT)


I dont get it. Recently i read that over 20 million mp3 players have been sold world wide. Apple has sold over 3 million iPods, so the 70% market share that the iTMS has is probably mainly from those customers. So why aren’t Real targeting the other owners of mp3 players? I know that there’s no other manufacturer that has sold as many as Apple but why go for their customers when there is a much bigger market out there? I think Real have a grudge against Apple now and are getting very childish about it.
I would like the choice of music stores, but out of the ones I’ve tried the ITMS is miles ahead in terms of ease of use and other than price there’s no other reason to use another download shop, unless you believe you can hear such a big difference between 128kbps and 192kbps.
I think Apple should now licence Fairplay and pre-empt Real’s licencing of Harmony and that will be another nail in Real’s coffin.

Posted by bob on August 17, 2004 at 9:32 AM (PDT)


To musonic,
RESPONDING TO: “I bet you drive a mustang and have a tatoo of an apple mac icon on your arm as well wink

Maybe I do. (lol) wink

OR maybe im just an average Joe with an opinion smile or 2 or 3.

Posted by djjasman on August 17, 2004 at 10:07 AM (PDT)


Actually, it *would* be kind of interesting if Apple started licensing Fairplay now, right after Real’s, admittedly, childish attempt, wouldn’t it?

Btw, many people above scream “fanboys!” all the time… As for me I don’t even own a mac. I just think this is such a childish and greedy attempt by Real to get in to the digital music shopping party that I can’t sympathise with the “freedom of choice”-thing for one second.

Well, time to go get myself a mac I guess…

Posted by blip on August 17, 2004 at 10:38 AM (PDT)


OK, so (for now) you can use the iPod. But you can’t use iTunes as your jukebox for Harmony songs… and you can’t use Real’s jukebox for your iTMS songs.

And if you can’t use iTunes as your jukebox, you lose much of what makes iPod great.

No thanks!

Posted by Nagromme on August 17, 2004 at 10:56 AM (PDT)


Wow this might change the digital music biz alot if all works out for real.  It will be funny to laugh at the people who bought like $1000 worth of music from real just to find out that apple sued the hell out of them and it won’t work in their ipod’s if they ever update their ipods.

Posted by knarf135 on August 17, 2004 at 11:32 AM (PDT)


“The point is, you can’t use it if you run OS X. So, where is the freedom of choice?”

“Well, if you’re using a Mac you’ve already exercised your freedom of choice to use an insignificant, niche, proprietary computer platform. Welcome to reality lesson 101. Apple may have created the iPod, and the iPod may very well drive where the DAP market goes, but it will be the iPod on *Windows* that is the driving force.”

Well if you’re using and iPod, you’ve already exercised your freedom of choice!  This is why Sony understands the gaim with its walkman/connect/atrac competing directly with iPod/iTMS/FairPlay.

real still thinks the traditional record store is the model to base their business on.  That is dead.  It is all about system integration and invisible technology.

Posted by msconvert on August 17, 2004 at 11:55 AM (PDT)


do any of the people supporting “more choices” wonder why the library of artists on sites like suck? no DRM. Apple didn’t decide to slap Fairplay on iTMS just to hack people off forcing them to use their store, the music industry wouldn’t give them rights to the music UNLESS there was DRM that satisfied everyone.

i’m all for choice myself, but i don’t want a hacked file junking up my iPod b/c i wanted to save $.50. Apple is able to offer a GREAT user experience & a decent value b/c they have full control of the system.

i just hope Real’s hacker tactics bite them in the ###…

Posted by sinisterdesign on August 17, 2004 at 11:56 AM (PDT)


I’m not following why Real selling songs for .49 and entire albums for $4.9 is a bad thing for iPod users.

I bought Contraband (Velvet Revolver) from Real for $4.99, burned it to a CD, imported the CD into iTunes, sync’d my iPod to iTunes and now I’m playing the songs on my iPod.

I didn’t have to let Real control my iPod.  I still use iTunes and I get a great deal on music prices from Real.

What’s not too like?


Posted by Bruce on August 17, 2004 at 12:08 PM (PDT)


To Carl: players sound different because they process the data differently.  The firmware is different even if the hardware (main processor) often isn’t.  Plus, what you actually listen to through those earbuds is analog, not digital and differences in d/a conversion is notorious for making one machine sound great and another only so-so.  I too think the iRiver IHPs and at least a couple of the Zen models sound better than my 3G and 4G iPods, but it’s not all that much different to be worth sacrificing the goodness of Apple’s design.

I personally have no problem with Real’s attempt at an end around; lower prices, especially for so-so quality files (versus original CD or lossless digital) is ALWAYS a good thing.  How the RIAA members can fool iTunes store patrons into spending so much for so little is incomprehensible to me.  Shame that “the price saviour” has to be a slimy company like Real, though.

Posted by buffalowings on August 17, 2004 at 12:34 PM (PDT)


To blip: if Apple started to license Fairplay, then Real will have won the battle, because that’s exactly what they wanted in the first place.

Posted by buffalowings on August 17, 2004 at 12:38 PM (PDT)


To buffalowings: They could charge Real twice as much for their license as other companies…

Also could Apple charge their license per song bought, therefore sqeezing other music store’s margins even more? and also set high standards (compatability, support, integration) for the others to have as a condition for their license?

Posted by bob on August 17, 2004 at 12:43 PM (PDT)

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