RealNetworks plans to sell iPod compatible songs | iLounge News


RealNetworks plans to sell iPod compatible songs

“Tomorrow, without Apple’s authorization, RealNetworks will start to give away software that will allow people to buy and download songs from its online music store and then play them on Apple’s popular iPod portable devices in addition to those that use the Windows Media Player format and RealNetwork’s Helix format. [...]

So RealNetworks created technology that can create files to be read by iPods. Mr. Glaser [CEO, RealNetworks] declined to say how it did this. But Josh Bernoff, an analyst with Forrester Research, said that RealNetworks used a technique known as reverse engineering - observing how Apple’s software behaved as it encoded songs to be loaded onto iPods.”

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Well, I just tried the Real Store (thank you uncle and your Heineken boxes) with the new Real Beta, and I confirm a few things…

Yes, it works. You do have to turn off auto-sunc in iTunes if you want to keep your Real music, or perpetually re-sync your Real music after you sync iTunes, but the music plays, and it sounds great, I have to say. Real’s AAC for the iPod is DRM’ed, though. You can’t play it in iTunes, if you have your iPod on manual and try to play a Real song with it, it will want you to authorize the song with iTunes, and for obvious reasons, this fails. You can change the tags in iTunes, and curiously, when you get info on the song, it claims to be protected by FairPlay version 1. So if they did this by reverse engineering, they got it good enough to make it playable on the iPod.

Personally, I’m going to stick with iTunes, despite the awesome sound quality (192 AAC, as pointed out earlier). 128 is perfectly acceptable to my ears, and it’s a royal pain in the a** to get iTunes and Real purchased music to coexist (i.e. it’s impossible without resorting to manual sync if you don’t already use it)

Posted by UTEP_MinerPod on July 27, 2004 at 1:12 PM (CDT)


The Real Music Store is PC only - No Macs.

Posted by Blueridge on July 27, 2004 at 4:32 PM (CDT)


can you post the link to the real beta?

Posted by tdb on July 27, 2004 at 6:18 PM (CDT)


Why does this sound like history repeating itself?

Nintendo vs. Tengen anyone?

(Yes, I am aware that the situation is somewhat different from the Nintendo case, but it is still similar enough).

Posted by Cameron on July 27, 2004 at 10:25 PM (CDT)


So many people think Apple is always going to be king of the hill, but they won’t.  Who will?  Microsoft, of course!

The average person doesn’t want to pay $300 for a walkman… yes, an iPod is nothing more than a walkman when it’s all said and done.

Microsoft will put players in people’s hands for $50 and start the Microsoft Music Store (they won’t waste their time make it exclusive to one player—they’ll play nice with all players)... say bye bye t iTMS domination at that point.

I love my iPod, but I’m not running out to buy my kid one for $300.  Will I buy him a $50 player?  Of course.

REAL is doing the right thing.  They are opening up the marketplace to competition.  Competition in the computer realm equals lower cost and added benefits.

Posted by iPod Lover on July 27, 2004 at 10:30 PM (CDT)


Quick post….
tdb, here’s the link to the Rhapsody beta:

And Cameron, glad to see I wasn’t the only one thinking of the Nintendo-Tengen situation, either. It’s similar enough in that reverse engineering for interoperability was what Tengen did, and Tengen won that fight. I’m an Apple lover myself, but I have to say that I believe that Real is doing the right thing here. It’s like Tengen had good games for the NES (i.e. Gauntlet), and Real has some good music to feed my ‘Pod (i.e. a lot more John Williams than I cant get at iTMS). The diversity is good for consumers, and the competition could be good for Apple - instead of fighting this, they should be working to improve their own store (higher bitrates somes to mind immediately).

Posted by UTEP_MinerPod on July 27, 2004 at 11:07 PM (CDT)


Basically, Jobs tried to squeeze Real out of the iPod market, so Real made an end run around Apple and now they’re selling music for the iPod and Jobs isn’t getting a cut of the profits.  For some reason, I don’t think that’s exactly what he had in mind.  And if Real can do it—and if they get away with it—then it’s only a matter of time before other music services offer their own solutions.

This is exactly the kind of thinking that almost sank Apple in the 90’s, and it would appear that Jobs didn’t learn his lesson.

Posted by Mountain Man on July 28, 2004 at 6:54 AM (CDT)


Before long, they are gonna try to run the house.

This is what Microsoft did not too long ago.

Apple must regain control of this situation.

Posted by Real broke in through the basement... on July 28, 2004 at 9:22 AM (CDT)


I don’t buy my cds from one music source; why should I then agree to buy my online music from only one source (not that I’ve ever actually BOUGHT anything from the iTunes Store).

Apple should see about licencing FairPlay, now that Real has let the cat out.  Apple has limited options; they can sue, but I think that’s not a solution and there’s no guarantees anyways that Apple will prevail.  If Apple does win, all that does is hurt us consumers by limiting competition.  Better to go ahead and let Real in with the true DRM scheme and give us consumers a choice, and some healthy competition.  Unfortunately (for the iTunes store), I can also see Sony, Wal*Mart and MSFT wanting a piece of this action.

Posted by watchinginthewings on July 28, 2004 at 2:32 PM (CDT)


competition is good.  it’s a drive to better service and product.

Posted by tdb on July 28, 2004 at 5:17 PM (CDT)


forgot to mention.
i donwload the real beta “harmony” version. it work and play like it should.

but when i AUTO sync with itune it deletes all the songs from real.  but it’ll work if i manual tranfer them.

maybe i can try auto sync but with only some of the playlist.
put all the new songs from real in one play list and auto sync everything else except that.

Posted by tdb on July 28, 2004 at 5:19 PM (CDT)


Ah yes. Steve kicks himself in the foot again. He’s a control freak, so what’s new. ITunes/iPod was Apple’s opportunity to branch out & compete in other areas, but it looks like Steve will put a stop to that too. Working with Real would have not only provided a greater market for the ipod, but could have opened other opportunitities. Right now, iTune’s radio sucks, big time. There aren’t any more stations now, then when iTunes debuted. When you go to most stations’ websites, they either ask if you want to listen over Real Player or WMA, not one that I know of asks if you want to listen in iTunes. With Real & Apple working together, listening to your favorite BBC program or news stations in other languages would have been really nice, but because iTunes never develops much, this probably won’t happen… and plenty of people will probably subscribe to digital radio for their daily commute, when Apple could have nipped that market in the bud.

Posted by Chris on July 28, 2004 at 10:25 PM (CDT)


Absolutely brilliant! DMCA doesn’t apply because Real is actually adding DRM, not circumventing it. And even any reverse engineering they did is completely legal if they 1) did it in a clean way, which is easy because non-Apple info was already public and 2) documented the process to show it was clean.

Will I use the Real service? Probably not. But it’s nice to have the option.

Posted by Focher on July 29, 2004 at 5:26 AM (CDT)


I’m confused…  i’m somewhat new to the iPod scene so forgive me.  I don’t use iTunes to manage the music on my iPod.  I use J River’s Media Center.  Media Center has provided nice support for the iPod for a few months now.  So what’s groundbreaking about Real’s new software.

I understand that the files I’m using with Media Center are unprotected MP3s I’ve ripped from CDs.  I’m guessing the issue has to do with the encryption music publishers require for legal music downloads.  Still, I haven’t quite been able to fit the pieces together.

What’s the difference between what Media Center does and what Real Networks is doing?

Posted by Trentino on July 29, 2004 at 1:11 PM (CDT)


It’s time that Apple wake up or shut up and go away!  Jobs claim that Microsoft is going proprietary, and Apple is about open systems.  This is so far from the truth.  Apple is just as proprietary now as they were back in the beginning, and they look dead set to kill their iPod business as well, with their customer abuse policies, not supporting older iPods with new features as they become available for newer iPods, and complaining when other companies provide for increased market share for the iPod.

And don’t even get me started on DRM, although I can’t blame Apple for that :-).  Check out for an interesting view on why DRM is doomed to fail…

Posted by WakeUp on July 30, 2004 at 6:07 AM (CDT)


DRM is going to be with us for the foreseeable future, primarily because artists won’t (or can’t) sign licensing agreements without it. That said, I think DRM is bad for consumers, and doesn’t really do much to deter piracy. It just adds a couple of extra steps to be able to play the music YOU purchased on the devices you likely invested hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on, WHEN and WHERE you choose.

I’ve been using MusicMatch as my primary player. I can’t play any of the tracks I purchase from their music store because they’re DRM protected WMAs. So my iPod and Turtle Beach Audiotrons can’t play them. No big whoop, I just burn an audio CD and re-rip as VBR MP3s. Same with iTunes music store, as MusicMatch and the AudioTrons can’t play the AACs. So you can imagine that the current DRM systems are equally inadequate to prevent piracy. If the industry comes out with stronger measures, we can still resort to recording audio in real-time and converting it into the digital format of choice. And if the industry comes out with a way to circumvent “recording audio”, I see no reason for EVERYONE to either boycott the industry or start illegally pirating music. I sure hope it doesn’t come to that.


Posted by willum on July 31, 2004 at 10:27 AM (CDT)


This is an excellent move by Real Networks. I’m the proud owner of a 4g I-pod and ever since I’ve been using it I’ve always felt it to be a restricted player of sorts.

Real networks move to slash song prices is a great move!

Posted by uday4 in Houston on August 18, 2004 at 4:38 PM (CDT)

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