RealNetworks restores iPod compatibility | iLounge News


RealNetworks restores iPod compatibility

In addition to expanding its Rhapsody subscription service today, RealNetworks also quietly restored iPod support for songs purchased from its online music store with an update to its Harmony technology. A RealNetworks executive confirmed the move to CNET “Harmony now supports all shipping iPods, including iPod photo,” said RealNetworks Chief Strategy Officer Richard Wolpert.

RealNetworks released Harmony without Apple’s blessing last year making the company’s online store the first to offer copy-protected digital music (other than the iTunes Music Store) that could play on the iPod. Apple said at the time it was “stunned that RealNetworks has adopted the tactics and ethics of a hacker to break into the iPod,” and updated the iPod firmware a few months later to break compatibility.

It should be noted that songs downloaded from RealNetworks’ new subscription services do not work with the iPod and are only compatible with a small number of Windows-based MP3 players.

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So, wait, this is the “groundbreaking announcement” that is meant to “change the face of music on the Internet today”???  I can sum it all up with one word: meh.

A lot of hype, that’s for sure.

Posted by m. sherman on April 26, 2005 at 7:00 PM (CDT)


Any user who wants to RELY on compatibility with RealNetworks and iPod must be out of their mind.  Apple has shown in the past that they can “break” compatibility with RealNetworks whether deliberately or inadvertertly with a new version of iTunes (or QuickTime for that matter).  There’s very likely to be a tweak or version change of some sort in connection with the imminent release of Tiger, Mac OSX 10.4.  A Windows user (Mac users can’t access RealNetworks as I recall) can of course always stay with a “compatible” version of iTunes but, sooner or later, will miss out on future improvements to iTunes not to mention incompatibility or lack of access to certain features of the iTunes Music Store.

Think common sense.  Apple has a proprietary operating system and has no interest in letting anyone else get in on the proprietary AAC format.  IMHO anyone would have to be crazy to download music from RealNetworks and think it will be forever compatible with iTunes.  There are of course other music jukeboxes, but will they maintain compatibility too?  It’s not by accident that consistently maintains compatibility with iTunes.  If and when RealNetworks switches to a purely mp3 format, or offers it as an option, there’s no way anyone wiith common sense will download files from RealNetworks if they own an iPod.  They’re far better off download illegal files using the various clients available and obtaining MP3 format files.

While there are conversion utilities for Mac to convert WMA to MP3, and there may likewise be the same for Windows, that doesn’t mean that someone out there is going to be able to consistently convert RealNetworks files to MP3.  The reason is simple.  RealNetworks keeps changing their file structure in an attempt to keep up with Apple’s changes for iTunes.

Apple doesn’t even need to sue RealNetworks for theft of intellectual property (i.e., the AAC format).  All they need to do is keep updating iTunes, incrementally or with major updates which will be compatible with both Windows and Mac, always making it possible to include formats such as mp3, Apple lossless, AIFF, etc. etc.  The RealNetworks format, last I looked, doesn’t even come close to any of these formats and they won’t stay compatible with AAC for all.  Bank on it.

Posted by glockster on April 26, 2005 at 7:41 PM (CDT)


So did previous songs from Rhapsody work with iPods and then they stopped working?

Now with this new update, will the old ones work again or only the ones purchased from now on?

Posted by wco81 on April 26, 2005 at 8:14 PM (CDT)


I got 2 free songs after my dad bought a Heineken 6-pack last Independence Day.  (lol I’m too young to drink)  But, the Real songs still work on my 3G w/ 2.3 latest

Posted by ipodman715 on April 26, 2005 at 8:47 PM (CDT)


Apple has a proprietary operating system and has no interest in letting anyone else get in on the proprietary AAC format.

AAC is not proprietary, it’s a trade standard. You pay the patent license fee (as Apple does) and you can make as many encoders as you want.

What Apple does own is the FairPlay DRM. In fact, Apple liked it so much that it bought the original company that developed FairPlay, to prevent them licensing it to anyone else.

As to the ethics of effectively locking out all competitors… It’s a bit like Microsoft saying once upon a time that it had the complete right to dictate what could and could not run or be bundled with Windows PCs. And Microsoft was found guilty of criminal conspiracy…

Personally, I predict an “update” to iTunes will be released within days!

Posted by Demosthenes on April 26, 2005 at 10:05 PM (CDT)


oh and Glockster, doesn’t Microsoft as well have a “proprietary” OS known as windows? lol just thought I’d point that one out.

Posted by MATRIXsjd on April 26, 2005 at 11:13 PM (CDT)


Oh, and what is OS X built on top of? well none other the Unix which is guess what, open source.

Posted by MATRIXsjd on April 26, 2005 at 11:56 PM (CDT)


If the iTMS ever offers 192Kbps tracks, then I will consider buying from them. Until then I’ll give my business to the RealPlayer Music Store.
glockster, RealAudio 10 is AAC, just like Apple uses.  That’s the reason why they can transcode the files without any loss of quality when transferring to an iPod.  All they are doing is putting the file in a different, iPod-compatible wrapper.

Posted by Galley on April 27, 2005 at 1:11 AM (CDT)


I personally think that the fact there are various “flavours” to online music files is what’s causing every player the most harm.

We have MP3, AAC, WMA, then we have the iTunes DRM’d files and WMA “plays for sure” etc etc.

As far as I can recall, consumers have only really ever seen one “format war” and that was video with Betamax and VHS the two main players - and plenty of people got burned by buying Betamax.

Why is there no “de facto” format - both for the files and also the DRM? Why is there no open source DRM? Something that can be freely licenced by those people (labels) wanting to “secure” their content for online sale?

Sure, any copy protection will be cracked, especially if it’s a dominant/only format as then it’ll attract the most interest.

However, any DVD plays on any DVD player (region hacks aside) and they all have sufficient copy protection to stop the average ned from copying them - as I said above, if someone’s determined there’s not much you can do about it.

I for one (of what could be millions of potential customers) will not be bothering as long as there are REAL drawbacks to buying online:

- lack of quality
- lack of ownership once I’ve paid for a file
- restrictions on how that file can be used (and these conditions can and indeed have been changed AFTER people have bought the files)
- lack of compatility with playback devices (if I buy from iTunes I have to have an iPod - or jump through hoops to make the file work on another player - something Joe Public won’t accept).

As in various sports - when two people/teams are battling each other they slow BOTH of them down.

Posted by PugRallye on April 27, 2005 at 5:03 AM (CDT)


- lack of quality
There is a lack of quality

- lack of ownership once I’ve paid for a file
Define “ownership”, you own it more than subscription services. The only thing you can’t do easily is resell the file after purchase.

- restrictions on how that file can be used (and these conditions can and indeed have been changed AFTER people have bought the files)
True and apple has changed the restrictions once, but where we lost number of playlist burns we gain number of computers to put songs onto. The restrictions aren’t pad for the “average ned”

- lack of compatility with playback devices (if I buy from iTunes I have to have an iPod - or jump through hoops to make the file work on another player - something Joe Public won’t accept).
Further compatibility would be nice. For me it’s a non issue, though. Being an Apple user, it will take a lot for me to change.

Posted by studogvetmed on April 27, 2005 at 9:35 AM (CDT)


- “ownership” as in that track you just paid for is not your’s. You cannot decide what to do with it. You cannot lend it to people, you cannot sell it on etc etc. Basically in a legal sense (ie: the only sense that really matters as the corporations are so lawyer-happy these days) it STILL belongs to them.

- “restrictions” Imagine you buy a car with a 20k mile service internal and then the manufacturer decides that it should be serviced every 10k miles and in fact won’t start unless that schedule is maintained. The more market share these companies have the more they will start “playing God” and changing the T&Cs; - mark my words. This WILL happen. The restrictions may not be “pad” (bad?) for the average ned YET - but in three years when he no longer wants an iPod and wants something else and THEN finds out he can’t take his music with him…..

- “lack of compatibility” - good, your happy to stick with Apple from now on. I’m not. Nor should be feel obliged to be. I’m not stuck with Pioneer to watch my DVDs on. Why should I have to buy an Apple product to listen tio music I just bought from their site - it’s not like it’s THEIR music they’re selling.

I’m sorry, but tying the content into the hardware is a bad idea as far as I’m concerned.

What’s that?

Oh yeah, you can only run Apple software on Apple hardware, just like you can only listen to iTMS files on Apple products (either hardware or running iTunes) - funny that, inlight of this thread’s subject….

Posted by PugRallye on April 27, 2005 at 10:14 AM (CDT)


Unix isn’t open source… Linux is.

Posted by bluejacket on April 27, 2005 at 10:20 AM (CDT)


Wish I could go back and edit the comment post to change that “pad” to the bad it was meant to be :)

You don’t own the file as much as if you had ripped the CD yourself, but you do own some “Rights” to it. From that I guess we could start debating the differences between owning something tangible and owning some rights to it. I CAN lend the file to people. I lend all of my purchase files to my brother and father by authorizing their computers to play my music. Really the only thing I don’t own is the right to sell it, in every other sense, though, I own the file and can use it as needed. I think the restrictions are in some cases valid arguments against the DRM, but I do own something of what I purchased. This I believe. Anyone else can believe it or not.

We’re all entitled to our opinions and I think you make many good points, that I agree with on some levels. Each person has to decide how much each means to them, though. I never asked you personally to feel obliged to be happy to stick with apple, just said I was. Call me a conformist if you want, it won’t hurt my feelings.

The majority of my purchases do remain actual CD content that I can always be able to rip into whatever format and quality I choose.


Posted by studogvetmed on April 27, 2005 at 11:28 AM (CDT)


Open Source DRM - the reason this hasn’t taken of yet is the percepton that if it’s open source, it’s availabl for any one to inspect, and thus easier to crack.  A major part of security is obscurity - you don’t tell anyone wht your security is or how it works, or else it will be much easier to bypass.

Until someone can come up with an open source DRM platform, and can prove that it is secure and not crackable while still being true OSS, and can get major backing / acceptance (Say, from IBM, Apple, etc.), this will be a paradox - how do you have something that is secure, that anyone can look at the design plans for?

Posted by Geoffrey on April 27, 2005 at 11:35 AM (CDT)


I’m confused. Is Rhapsody now compatible with any iPod? At the beginning of the article it said it was and then at the bottom it said it wasn’t. WTF?

Posted by FallN on April 27, 2005 at 2:04 PM (CDT)


No, actually it doesn’t say that.  Real’s online music store is an entirely seperate service from Rhapsody.  The Real Music Store works with the Ipod, Rhapsody doesn’t.  Why Real would use 2 seperate (and incompatable) formats is beyond my understanding, seeing as how they have attacked Apple in the past for not providing interoperability.

To answer a few previous posts, no this wasn’t the groundbreaking announcement.  The one Real issued earlier in the day was.  Although it wasnt very groundbreaking either.

And anyone who wants to rely on compatability with RealPlayer is perfectly sane, as long as they dont also hope to maintain compability with Itunes and have no need for future Ipod firmware updates.

Posted by Crumbete on April 27, 2005 at 2:56 PM (CDT)


I downloaded Real Rhapsody today.  They’re offering free trial accounts (no credit card activation, fees, or trial periods).  You get 25 free plays a month.  Which really isn’t much, but it’s a nice way to preview whole songs before purchasing them from somewhere else like iTunes where you only get 30 sec previews.

Posted by ACLeroK212 on April 27, 2005 at 3:35 PM (CDT)


Just use Replay Music to save those 25 songs each month.

Posted by powaking on April 27, 2005 at 4:03 PM (CDT)


Just to clarify….

When I was talking about an “open source DRM” what I meant was that the code would be closed, but the implementation would be open and free.

So if you wanted to encode music, you could use this “standard” DRM and do so. You’d not have access to it’s internals.

That way, small labels etc could easily add some form of protection to their music and then sell it online.

I have noticed though that some small independant labels (like Warp, here in the UK) sell all their online music DRM-free - which I think is a good thing.

I still come back to this idea that ANY form of control that’s added into a file that I have paid for is a bad thing. I don’t OWN the file, I have a LICENCE to use it - and if they change the T&Cs; then there’s nothing I can do about it.

Posted by PugRallye on April 27, 2005 at 5:04 PM (CDT)


:-) - You answered youself there.

The reason a company won’t use someone else’s protection scheme, is it’s not theirs.  Unless it’s truly Open Source, who’s to stop the supplier of said protection scheme from suddenly changing things and screwing things over?  Or, a crack is found, and they don’t handle it well?

Major technology companies like to keep things under their control - power supplies, spare parts, etc.  For a while, you couldn’t put anything but Compaq memory in a Compaq PC, until they realized that by doing this, customers were going elsewhere out of frustration.  IBM did the same thing with their PS/2 hardware scheme about 15 years ago.  Apple also used to do this, which was one of the cheif complaints against them and why they struggled so hard back when they started - you could only get Apple parts from Apple, and not from a 3rd party vendor.  Nowadays, you can get RAM, Drives, and Video cards from other vendors, although they usually need to be Mac certified in some way.

By making thier own DRM schemes, each store has control over their distribution.  This lets them A) Control what devices the files are used on (iPod, Windows Media devices, etc.), B) Assure the Record Industry that they are responsible for the security of the music files, and can’t put the blame on somene else (I shudder at the thought of the RIAA coming up with a DRM scheme themselves and forcing all the online stores to use it - they probably already tired, and were laughed at), and C) Assure themselves (and their customers) of the quality of thier product.  Apple can be sure that FairPlay works with iPods, because they made both of them.  If Real or MS makes a standard, and then changes it, there is a period where Apple is up a crick w/o a paddle until they get out updates.  (Yes, they could comunicate… but we know how well that works. ;-) )

Posted by Geoffrey on April 27, 2005 at 5:57 PM (CDT)

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