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Music Media Businesses Apple

Real Begs Apple for Alliance 387

Posted by michael
from the real-is-irrelevant dept.
hype7 writes "In a an extremely forward move, CEO of Real Networks Rob Glaser has emailed Steve Jobs, imploring him to open up Apple's AAC Digital Rights Management System - FairPlay - to Real. The upside for Real - all music sold by them would be compatible with the iPod. The upside for Apple - Real would make the iPod its primary device for the RealNetworks store and for the RealPlayer software. However, Mr. Glaser wasn't just dangling carrots - he implied that should Apple not be a receptive partner for an alliance, he would be forced to look towards Microsoft. There was a similar post made not too long ago, with BusinessWeek's take on the whole thing." There's a Reuters story as well.
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Real Begs Apple for Alliance

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  • High Level of Fear? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by soapbox (695743) * on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:19AM (#8869556)
    From the Article:
    "Real understands how incredibly powerful the Microsoft music initiative will be," said Richard Doherty, a computer industry consultant and president of Envisioneering. "I don't think that Jobs understands this. He doesn't realize how big the juggernaut is about to get."


    In his e-mail message to Mr. Jobs, Mr. Glaser said that he was reaching out to Mr. Jobs before making a move to switch camps. Mr. Glaser said he was surprised that the proposal had been leaked.

    "Why is Steve afraid of opening up the iPod?" he asked in a telephone interview. "Steve is showing a high level of fear that I don't understand."

    Oh yeah, I'm sure Steve is quaking in his boots--he's known for being a coward in the face of juggernauts like Disney, Microsoft, and The Beatles' Music Company (Apple Corps)...

    Anyway, Apple is hedging its bets in a few places. You can easily play OGG formats in iTunes (a tutorial in this month's MacAddict tells how to use the codec), and Apple even includes an OGG icon to use in OS X, though you have to do one or two (easy) things to make it work seamlessly. I don't think Apple is afraid of opening things up except that, for instance, supporting WMA or Real playback on iPods would endanger the iTunes Music Store sales, which provide zero or very little profit to Apple, IIRC, but which sure improve the sales of iPods. Where Real fits into the risk/reward equation is unclear, but why let Real just have a piece of the action? Doesn't look like the profit to Apple is that great.
    • by Seth Finklestein (582901) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:26AM (#8869672) Journal
      When I switched to Mac OS X 10.3 "Panther" last year, one of the key reasons was the complete lack of adware and spyware on the Mac OS platform. My computer is my own, and is not for sale to the highest bidder. That's why I don't use RealPlayer. It's my choice.

      Frankly, RealPlayer should not pressure Apple to do anything. Real represent all that is evil with software: they took a mediocre player (RealPlayer G2) and made it into a horrible mess of marketroid-fueled insanity. You can't even "quit" RealPlayer without being assaulted with pop-up ads begging you to buy the so-called "Gold" version.

      Apple respects the consumer. That's why I pray they will never, ever, bow to this so-called "pressure" from Real.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You can easily play OGG formats in iTunes

      That's not "easily", and ogg support is crippled.

      It's not hedging either -- AAC/MP4 is far more popular than ogg. Outside of a few vocal slashdot posters, nobody cares about ogg.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Real Audio is a dying format and Glasser knows this. This is a last ditch effort to try and make something before they begin to fold. Why would Microsoft suddenly work with them after Real just fucked them over in Europe?

      What a crack addict.

      • by BrerBear (8338) * on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:40AM (#8869886)
        Real Audio is a dying format and Glasser knows this. This is a last ditch effort to try and make something before they begin to fold. Why would Microsoft suddenly work with them after Real just fucked them over in Europe?

        Probably for the same reasons Microsoft would want to work with Sun after Sun dogged them for years. Microsoft would look at the deal objectively, and not emotionally, the way you did.

        There are still plenty of sites out there that use or require the RealAudio format, and it's not dying anytime soon. Getting Real to switch to WMA would give Microsoft a slam dunk monopoly in streaming media. Why wouldn't Microsoft want that?

    • by foidulus (743482) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:39AM (#8869857)
      iTunes Music Store sales, which provide zero or very little profit to Apple, IIRC, but which sure improve the sales of iPods.
      This is actually quite a common myth, they actually make about 30 cents a song, the comment about them breaking even was about(at that point) the fact that the amount of songs they have sold have basically covered development, server, and ad costs. Almost all of that is fixed costs, so they will have economy of scale. The store can become very profitable if it is able to sell a lot of songs.
      • The iTMS has produced a small profit this quarter, according to this [macminute.com].
      • by shotfeel (235240)
        Define "make about 30 cents a song".

        IIRC that's Apple's cut of the 99 cents. Out of that 30 cents comes all the cost of running the store -everything from paying salaries to bandwidth costs in addition to the costs you mentioned.

    • You are right, Real's music store would compete with iTMS, if Apple allied with Real. What you forget is that that isn't a problem. iTMS exists for the sole purpose of selling iPods, which it has done extremely well at, but the store itself about breaks even. Who cares if Real takes a small chunk in the overal music sale? It will only help to sell more ipods.
    • Not Invented Here... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by simpl3x (238301) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @12:34PM (#8870745)
      It's not that Apple/Steve is quaking in fear, nor should it. It will likely be a two company game when Real bites the dust, or basically becomes a MS serf. But, there are some legitimate concerns. Why doesn't Apple make QuickTime more open, and players for all platforms including mobiles? Why isn't there a software iTunes for most of the platforms, mobiles included? Why can't companies come to Apple to license the technology and use the store to their advantage, ala Amazon links?

      Steve does need to get a grip sometimes, and become more open. I'm not sure Real is that special company upon which to bet however. But Real aside, the concerns are the same.
    • by Cecil (37810)
      You can easily play OGG formats in iTunes

      If by easily, you mean downloading a third-party plugin, then sure. But give credit where credit is due. The guy who wrote the plugin deserves the praise. iTunes Ogg Vorbis support is certainly no thanks to Apple, and there are numerous problems with it as it stands, that *are* in fact their fault. Of all the OSes, all the MP3 players, all the music players I've ever used, Apple is by far the most anti-vorbis, and it really is the only thing that continues to bothe
  • Good! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Steamhead (714353)
    I say good! No matter how much we thing real sucks here, this can only be good, a good easy DRM (hopefully) and another thing that will work with iPods. How can this be bad?
    • Re:Good! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gid13 (620803)
      Well... It seems to me that if it contributes to the spread of Real's official player it's a bad thing. Real's formats don't seem to me to have any technical advantage, so spreading them is a bad thing in my eyes, especially since I'm not really a fan of the idea of DRM at all.
    • Re:Good! (Score:5, Funny)

      by jefe7777 (411081) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:31AM (#8869746) Journal
      I'm not sure.

      (geek tries to impress prospective female)

      geek: "Look at my cool iPod mini, it's wonderful." (hands the device to female)

      female: "wow. it's pretty cute. kind of like you. let me play a song. (pushes button). hmmm. nothing is happening...what does 'buffering' mean?"

      (girl walks off not impressed)
  • Good to see (Score:5, Funny)

    by FortKnox (169099) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:20AM (#8869571) Homepage Journal
    Good to see someone ELSE is using MS's monopolistic behavior to their advantage.
  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:22AM (#8869589)
    http://sarovar.org/projects/playfair/ :P
  • by MurrayTodd (92102) * on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:22AM (#8869594) Homepage
    As much as I love my Macs, having shifted away from Linux the day the first OS X Public Beta was released, I have to admit I really get annoyed by Apple's draconian behavior when it comes to holding onto hardware monopolies.

    It's very much like Microsoft, but with a twist. Some of my least favorite stunts:

    1. Not allowing a person to upgrade a DVD/CD drive to a Superdrive. I bought my PowerMac two months before the superdrive was released. I get to use stupid DVD-RAM disks, but I can't burn DVD's unless I buy a whole new computer.

    2. Apple keeps its iSync API locked up. There are millions of really cool things I could do to make Apple able to synchronize with things like LDAP servers, competing browsers, PC's, etc. But then Apple could use it as a leverage-point to keep people subscribing to the overpriced .Mac program.

    3. USB video cameras, like the ubiquitous Logitech QuickCam, just don't work (well) and Apple seems to have put blocks into place to refuse iChat AV from working with anything but their iSight hardware product. (I exaggerate a little bit here, but not much.)

    The iPod Quicktime-AAC is just another example. Where Microsoft fights to protect it's OS dominence, Apple refuses to make its customers' lives better if it suggests that they might loose the odd dollar in missed hardware sales opportunities.
    • by Seth Finklestein (582901) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:35AM (#8869798) Journal
      1. Not allowing a person to upgrade a DVD/CD drive to a Superdrive. I bought my PowerMac two months before the superdrive was released. I get to use stupid DVD-RAM disks, but I can't burn DVD's unless I buy a whole new computer.

      Or you could just buy an superiour quality DVD recorder [macminute.com] from a third-party. Unlike Microsoft, Apple allows you to use all standards-compliant hardware with their DVD burning software.

      2. Apple keeps its iSync API locked up. There are millions of really cool things I could do to make Apple able to synchronize with things like LDAP servers, competing browsers, PC's, etc. But then Apple could use it as a leverage-point to keep people subscribing to the overpriced .Mac program.

      Funny that you mention LDAP; Apple supports LDAP in its acclaimed Mail application [macosxhints.com], so you don't need to write so much as a speck of code to enable it. Getting LDAP support to work is easy as pie.

      I don't subscribe to .Mac, yet I can still use every iApp with ease. Perhaps Joe Sixpack needs his hand held, but I don't.

      3. USB video cameras, like the ubiquitous Logitech QuickCam, just don't work (well) and Apple seems to have put blocks into place to refuse iChat AV from working with anything but their iSight hardware product. (I exaggerate a little bit here, but not much.)

      Such is the price of progress. Face it: USB cameras simply don't have the throughput to push television-quality video the likes of which iChat AV with Pixlet can support. Would you take vacation photos with a so-called "camera phone" [mobog.com]? I know I wouldn't. My wife and children enjoy seeing me using iSight: it's a high-quality multivisual experience. Sorry that your piece-of-junk QuickCam won't work with it.
      • USB cameras simply don't have the throughput to push television-quality video

        Apple's camera isn't TV quality either. TV quality video requires at minimum a three-chip camera, and they don't sell for less than $1500.
      • by Del Vach (449393) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:54AM (#8870104)
        2. Apple keeps its iSync API locked up. There are millions of really cool things I could do to make Apple able to synchronize with things like LDAP servers, competing browsers, PC's, etc. But then Apple could use it as a leverage-point to keep people subscribing to the overpriced .Mac program.

        Funny that you mention LDAP; Apple supports LDAP in its acclaimed Mail application, so you don't need to write so much as a speck of code to enable it. Getting LDAP support to work is easy as pie.

        I don't subscribe to .Mac, yet I can still use every iApp with ease. Perhaps Joe Sixpack needs his hand held, but I don't.


        While the LDAP integration is handy, I don't think it addresses the original poster's point.

        My company has a fairly extendable product suite that includes mail, calendar, and contact management. If I could write an iSync conduit to our database, I'd be able to check my calendar and get alarms from my Powerbook, iPod or Bluetooth phone.

        That would let me use the interface(s) I like with the data I need, and would let us market OS X as a fully-supported platform. No, my company would probably never have an impact on Apple's bottom line, but as it stands now we can only offer syncronization with Windows users. In the meantime I've got this great all-in-one syncing solution that's completely useless to me, which is pretty frustrating.
      • iChat doesn't use Pixlet. It uses the industry standard H.263 [google.com] video codec. Look at the summary for the (currently) third link in those Google results.
    • by SlamMan (221834) <squigit@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:38AM (#8869850)
      Well, that first one's not to accurate. Pop out your combo drive, toss in a Superdrive. You can't buy it directly from Apple but what other computer manufacturer sells you upgrade parts?

      Or get an external one. They work great too.

      The iSync API pisses me off as well though. We'd love to develop inhouse syncing conduits, but can't.
    • Actually, you can upgrade to a superdrive: http://www.mcetech.com/dvdr8xdt-d.html [mcetech.com]
    • ...Apple seems to have put blocks into place to refuse iChat AV from working with anything but their iSight hardware product. (I exaggerate a little bit here, but not much.)

      You exaggerate massively, in fact. No USB devices work without a third-party driver, but all firewire cams work. I use iChat AV via a JVC camcorder, for example.

      Cheers,
      Ian

    • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:43AM (#8869933)
      1. Not allowing a person to upgrade a DVD/CD drive to a Superdrive. I bought my PowerMac two months before the superdrive was released. I get to use stupid DVD-RAM disks, but I can't burn DVD's unless I buy a whole new computer.

      Actually, anyone is free to add any internal or external hardware device they wish, including DVD+/-R/RW drives. However, if you wanted to use *specific* software, like iDVD, with your drive, then you needed to mirror one of Apple's OEM offerings with your purchase. The reason Apple tried to tie iDVD to their "SuperDrive" systems was more one of ensuring a very cohesive user experience, as opposed to the nightmare of support issues and bad reputation for iDVD as people with 400 MHz G4s tried to use iDVD with any old random DVD recorder.

      2. Apple keeps its iSync API locked up. There are millions of really cool things I could do to make Apple able to synchronize with things like LDAP servers, competing browsers, PC's, etc. But then Apple could use it as a leverage-point to keep people subscribing to the overpriced .Mac program.

      It's only a matter of time before there's an iSync SDK. And the second statement is kind of unrelated; if you think .Mac is overpriced, don't use it.

      3. USB video cameras, like the ubiquitous Logitech QuickCam, just don't work (well) and Apple seems to have put blocks into place to refuse iChat AV from working with anything but their iSight hardware product. (I exaggerate a little bit here, but not much.)

      ANY FireWire video source will work with iChat AV. Any video source at all will work with iChatUSBCam [ecamm.com]. Again, this decision was made to ensure a good user experience across the board with iChat AV, rather than letting people use any old crappy USB camera, which, right or wrong, reflects poorly on iChat AV.

      There is a reason why Apple products work and look great: because Apple tries hard to keep it that way.

      The iPod Quicktime-AAC is just another example. Where Microsoft fights to protect it's OS dominence, Apple refuses to make its customers' lives better if it suggests that they might loose the odd dollar in missed hardware sales opportunities.

      Well, first, you have to have a monopoly to start talking about monopolistic practices. Even with iPod, Apple doesn't have nearly a "monopoly". And QuickTime, while proprietary, is one of the best media architectures out there, with free live encoding, free streaming servers for multiple platforms, ability to use open standards for playback anywhere, etc. Not to mention that it was primarily Apple and Apple alone that made MPEG-4's licensing - one of the only hopes against Microsoft's VC9 - licensing leaps and bounds more palatable [com.com] than it originally was [com.com]. And Apple has to keep its hardware sales up, lest the analysts start a death knell [google.com] for the 1000th time.
    • by Octagon Most (522688) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:49AM (#8870011)
      At the risk of being labeled a fanboy, I disagree with part of your assertion. Apple does indeed lock hardware owners into an upgrade cycle of buying a new computer for new technology instead of easy upgrading. That's the Faustian bargain of being a Mac owner. I accept it but understand why many don't. Part of the equation is that the hardware is tightly controlled to maintain the usability standards. Would you really want the platform open to the point that you could slap any old hardware in there and pray for no driver conflicts? If so then there is a platform already that works that way. But that's another topic....

      Where I differ in opinion is with your complaint about Apple locking their software to their own expensive hardware and services.

      "2. Apple keeps its iSync API locked up [...] keep people subscribing to the overpriced .Mac program.

      3. USB video cameras, like the ubiquitous Logitech QuickCam, just don't work [...] with anything but their iSight hardware product. (I exaggerate a little bit here, but not much.)"


      It's Apple's sales strategy to develop free, or low cost, software to sell additional hardware and services. I hardly see anything wrong with that. In fact it's a great strategy since the software is excellent and there are alternatives available so you are not locked in. You can use AIM or Yahoo messenger instead of iChat if you choose. Yes, I wish my Logitech camera worked with iChat AV because I don't want to buy the expensive iSight camera. But I think it's fair that they give me a great IM program and offer advanced video features if I choose to use the supported hardware. Again, I can choose otherwise and am not locked in. Same with iSync, it's free and works with a lot of things out of the box. But you get more if you buy their .Mac service. It would be nice to have great software for free that does everything we want it to, but it's perfectly legitimate for Apple to recoup their development costs for those programs by using them to sell more stuff.
    • The driver made by IOXperts [ioxperts.com] runs my Logitech QuickCam 3000 Pro just fine, and gives me much more flexibility than Logitech's stinking software does. There are lots of options for changing the video size, and the video and audio compression. I was pretty upset when I first bought my mac and learned that Logitech has orphaned the QuickCam Pro 3000 on mac OS X, but as soon as I had it up and running with the IOXperts driver I was happy to have better software anyway. (Logitech's customer support recommends

    • 1) You can probably buy just iLife, though I'm not certain. If you're referring to the fact that it was a lack of software, that is. If so the 'problem' was licensing fees for the software were paid base on CPU sales, so until iDVD was sold alone they'd have been in breach of contract, at least technically, so you'd have to use someone else's software.

      2) This is true, but I wouldn't consider this a "stunt". There's other syncing software, or if you have something in particular in mind you could right
    • iChat will work with any camera that supports the FireWire IIDC [google.com] profile. There are even some programs that can emulate the IIDC for USB cameras.

      You can buy DVD recorders and DVD recording software for you Mac. Apple isn't stopping you.

      I agree with you on the iSync part. Hopefully it will eventually be a published API.
  • by lacrymology.com (583077) <nospam@minotaur[ ... m ['com' in gap]> on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:22AM (#8869598) Homepage
    Dear Apple,

    Please please please open Fair Play to use. Please please please. We'll be your best friend. Promise. Plllllleeeeeeeeeeaaaaaassssee! Come on, be a pal! Please please please.

    Love,
    Real

    -m
  • Closed standards. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by commo1 (709770)
    That's all we need: two closed source, proprietary standards getting more powerful. On the upside, only one proprietary player/codec to download. Only one proprietary player/codec for us to develop & release. Only one organizatino to rally against when they abuse their power. Also, I wonder how this would affect the standard use of Real? Would streaming video & audio suddenly becoe available in some future form of iPod?
    • Re:Closed standards. (Score:3, Informative)

      by LionMage (318500)

      That's all we need: two closed source, proprietary standards getting more powerful. On the upside, only one proprietary player/codec to download.

      What the hell are you babbling about, and how did this get modded +4 Interesting?

      I can't speak to Real's formats being proprietary, although as I understand it, they are based upon open standards. Rather, I'll focus on AAC.

      AAC is an open standard, part of the MPEG4 specification. Anyone can license it. The objectionable part of Apple's for-pay music store is

  • by novakane007 (154885) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:23AM (#8869612) Homepage Journal
    I love the AAC format. I use Winamp Pro to play and encode songs with AAC.
    I despise Real Player and it's unreasonable level of pop-ups and advertising. It is one of the most invasive pieces of software out there.
  • by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:23AM (#8869621)
    It won't find one. For whatever reason - a crappy client, death-by-Microsoft, etc...Real is no longer relevant in the media marketplace. It had to happen - between Quicktime/AAC, Windows Media, MP3, and even Ogg, there was no room whatsoever for a codec, client, and company with nothing to offer.

    Real won't be missed, it hasn't done anything of value to the marketplace or userbase for years now.

  • by ThomasFlip (669988) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:23AM (#8869622)
    Is that really a threat ? Does Rob Glaser really think Microsoft would ally with Real networks ? I could see Microsoft maybe buying them out, but has Microsoft ever allied with direct competition ? It seems like more of an empty threat to me.
    • Especially since Real is one of the big reasons that MS now owes the EU (or whoever over there) a ton of $$. I think it would be funny to see MS buy them out just for that... well, that and to get rid of Real and their crappy player/files.
  • Real...y? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:24AM (#8869630)
    Maybe they'll all reject Real and it'll just go away!!!
  • by wazzzup (172351) <astromac.fastmail@fm> on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:24AM (#8869631)
    or does the NY Times photo of Glazer make him look like he lives in a van down by the river?

    And hitting the government cheese pretty hard as well ;o)
  • Granted, I don't care for real, even though "Air America" seems to like it (hello? Streamed MP3, folks - more universal, damn it!)

    Anyway. It all boils down to "What does Apple want?" If it wants to sell iPods, this is part of the whole "killer move" thing. Right now, I can use my iPod with iTunes Music Store and Audible.com. And since I already shelled out $300 for this portable hard drive/music player, if you're not compatible, I don't want to hear it.

    Licensing Fairplay to Real (and yes, I know that Fairplay isn't owned by Apple, but I'm willing to bet they've got an "exclusive agreement" and enough clout to convince the actual owners to let Real in on the fun) would, as the header notes, make the iPod work with Rhapsody. I'm not about to sign up for Rhapsody, but all of the sudden, those "Apple's trying to lock you into their own technology" arguments go out the window. And it sets a good precident: ask Apple nicely, and you can use their service.

    But - this is only if Apple sees the prize as iPods. If they see the prize as becoming the de facto standard for online music, which would put them in a very powerful position, they could say "Hm - we have about 60% of all legal music downloads now, and the #1 portable MP3 players. Forget it, Real."

    Personally, I think a combination of the two is in order: license with Real as they did with Audible.com. Let Real sell "iPod compatible" songs off of Rhapsody and whatever - but make those same tunes available through iTMS, just like you can buy Audible's site or through the iTunes interface. Everybody gets to sell something, and Apple will gain the "subscription services" so people can pick and choose thier poisen.

    Of course, I could be totally wrong - but I won't mind if this scenario plays out.
  • by TempusMagus (723668) * on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:27AM (#8869684) Homepage Journal
    This would be a VERY wise thing for Apple to do for many many reasons. However, if I were Apple I would ask something in return - allow the real-media format to play as a component of QuickTime.
  • Image! (Score:5, Informative)

    by American AC in Paris (230456) * on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:27AM (#8869687) Homepage
    Real's got a bit of a hole to climb out of on this one. Why? Because they're notorious for their abusive, invasive, and all-around unpleasant media players. This matters because Steve, for better or for worse, is extremely nitpicky about presentation and image. Real has historically failed in the arenas of user-friendliness, interface elegance, and ease-of-use. True, they're making a strong effort to pull out of that, but they've still got a ways to go.

    Compare Real... The free player, while no longer buried as deep as it used to be, is still behind a text link in a grey box next to the big, shiny Premium Download button. Upon download, you're innundated with a page featuring "Real Accessories", which are little more than sponsored links to unrelated software.

    ...to Apple: From the Apple.com homepage, it's three clicks to the download page. Each click is non-misleading and about as obvious as you can make it (click the "iTunes and Music tab", click the big graphic in the middle of the page labelled "Download Now", select your version, and boom. You're downloading.) The confirmation page displays, among other things, the phrase "Thank You" in big, bold letters at the top of the screen. It, too, has its plugs, but they're for the iTunes Music Store and the iPod--far more relevant than the "TweakMASTER Pro", "FreeMem Pro", and "System Mechanic" software offered at Real. The layout is straightforward, doesn't try to shunt you to a more expensive alternative, and is cleaner-looking and easier to follow than the Real site.

    Real is going to have a tough time of convincing Jobs that Apple really wants to associate with them...

    • Re:Image! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Last time I tried it, QuickTime was bugging me to buy a "pro" version.
    • Re:Image! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dave420 (699308)
      Your comparison is slightly skewed... Apple makes a tiny, miniscule proportion of its earnings from Quicktime players. Real, on the other hand, gets most of its revenue from them. Apple makes its money charging creative prices for hardware, so pissing people off buying a media player is not a good idea at all, as it serves no purpose.
    • Re:Image! (Score:3, Funny)

      by Fear the Clam (230933)
      This matters because Steve, for better or for worse, is extremely nitpicky about presentation and image.

      I can just imagine Steve looking at that picture of Glazer, with his Boss Hogg face and "Burberry" tie, shaking his head and saying "Is it any wonder that everything having to do with this player is second-rate?"
  • by FS1 (636716) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:27AM (#8869692)
    The Real apple player?
    The Fairplayer?
    iReal player?
    or just call it the RIAA (Real itunes apple authorized) player?
  • Thoughts (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dolo666 (195584)
    Here is why monopolies are really harmful for business. What if Apple wasn't there for Real to look at for partnership? Monopolies only help deteriorate the creativity and human progress. Foward thinking companies realize that in order to perform excellent corporate execution, symbiotic relationships are not only necessary, they are profitable.
  • by Rethcir (680121)
    It seems like everyone is overlooking how RealPlayer is one of the most obnoxious programs in the universe. It puts itself all over your computer (system tray, explorer bar, etc), is loaded down with ads and spyware, and so forth. I pretty much refuse to ever support anything involving real, since it's such a crappy crappy suite of programs. I would laud the kind folks at apple (even though I'm a PC user) for making themselves as much of a pain in the ass to Real as they are to their users!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      It seems like everyone is overlooking how RealPlayer is one of the most obnoxious programs in the universe. It puts itself all over your computer (system tray, explorer bar, etc), is loaded down with ads and spyware, and so forth.

      On Windows, perhaps. On OS X, RealPlayer is just a lil' app and browser plugin that plays Real-format files. No more, no less.

      Funnily enough, even Windows Media Player for OS X is totally ad-free and stripped down. Shame it's got pretty crappy performance.

      MSN Messenger for O
  • by BortQ (468164) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:31AM (#8869749) Homepage Journal
    I'd think that such a 'strategic alliance' would be discussed in person, or at least over the phone. A single email message doesn't really say commitment.
  • by Grimster (127581) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:33AM (#8869777) Homepage
    Please, let them BOTH ignore Real and let the bastards die the slow agonizing death they so RICHLY deserve.

    Has anyone really used their junk since like version 3 or 4 when it became so laden with addons and hidden hitchhikers that no one in their right mind would install their crap?

    So hopefully both M$ and Apple will ignore Real networks and then Real will hopefully die soon.

    Yeah I know, dream on, but hey, I'm a romantic at heart.
  • Let Real Die (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Facekhan (445017) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:35AM (#8869800)
    "they are dying."
    "Let them die."

    I will not miss Real too much and I know very few of us will. They make a buggy crappy player and it competed with another buggy crappy player for a different equally crappy format. The company with the bigger bank account won. No surprise there. I play my .rm files in WMP anyways thanks to the RealAlternative codec.

    Apple has nothing to gain by helping Real and it is unlikely that Microsoft wants anything to do with Real except maybe to wait until they are about to collapse and buy them out to own the format.

    No one uses Realplayer to play mp3's except for those systems that downloaded the RealOne operating system and can't use anything else to play media files anymore.

  • Interesting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Zebra_X (13249) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:36AM (#8869820)
    As it is now - Real offers the ONLY player that incorporates all major music formats WMA, MPEG, ATRAC3, with exception for Apple's AAC. Real would be in a great position to offer a player that finally brings the whole mess of crap that is DRM under one umbrella and offer a music management platform to rival all others provided of course Jobs goes along with their scheme. So the real question is "Is Job's going to go for it?"

    "BUT BITCH, I SAID BIIIITCH, I AIN'T GONNA GO FOR IT, NOT NOW, NOT EVEAH!" - SD
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:38AM (#8869843)
    I'm sure Glaser has "no idea" how his proposal was leaked.

    There's no way Jobs (or anyone at Apple) is going to respond to such a blatant PR move by a floundering company less than 1/10 its size.

    Microsoft has the deep pockets and market power to win with these kinds of strong-arm blackmail tactics, but Real? Come on.

    I think it's sad Glaser is doing it this way, because there are good arguments for Apple opening up Fairplay to other music services. But Apple is very secretive about its partnerships and alliances (Apple writes into its contracts with manufacturing outsourcing and component producers that they can't publicly admit to it) and they won't want to be seen as even responding to this kind of public pressure from a piss-ant company like Real.
    • There's no way Jobs (or anyone at Apple) is going to respond to such a blatant PR move by a floundering company less than 1/10 its size.

      Hey, this is the tech industry!

      It's beleaguered company, you insensitive clod!

  • by SurfTheWorld (162247) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:41AM (#8869905) Homepage Journal
    Apple has come a *long* way in the past few years against really long odds. The OS X platform has revived interest in the PowerPC platform, and nowadays people with Macs (G5 desktops or G4 laptops) are prevalent. Combine that with Apple's music revolution (online music store) and their iPod and I think it's safe to say that Apple has really pulled itself up out of the dungeon.

    Real on the other hand is one of the most misunderstood companies out there. Legitimate on the exterior, Real is all but that at it's core (http://jogin.com/weblog/archives/2004/03/06/real_ reply).

    Real is deceptive, not technologically innovative, and unfriendly towards Linux.

    Apple partnering with Real would be a horrible position to take.

    It took a lot of work to get Darwin and Panther to work. No doubt Apple has *very intelligent* people working for them. Take some of the talent pool, and direct them towards developing a streaming media protocol that leverages existing formats (mpeg for example). Real hasn't done anything quite innovative lately (yes, their protocol was innovative when it came out ?5? years ago).

    I have no doubt in my mind that Apple could put together:
    a.) a more efficient wire protocol
    b.) reach more people than Real
    c.) make the interface intuitive and able to be skinned / themed
    d.) do this in less time

    Real is dying (search /. for Real and you'll find posts about MLB suing them and radio stations considering ditching them in favor of media player). Apple hitching their wagon to Real is flat out dumb.

  • Real Begs Apple for Alliance

    Begging? The tone of the article doesn't show any "begging". But it's nice the poster wants to give us some drama here on Slashdot while painting Real as weak and pitiful and Apple as mighty and in control of the whole game. "Oooh! DRAMA!!! Watch out Redmond Bill! Cupertino Steve and the Glaser might make an Alliance to vote you off!"

    Not very realistic or honest wording. Not that I like Real, I don't care. But why the insults?

  • I don't get it. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by microcars (708223) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:43AM (#8869924) Homepage
    Why would Glaser attempt negotiations via an email and a "leaked" version of the email?

    Does he think that he will "win" either way?

    Apple and REAL apparently tried some sort of an agreement a couple of years ago, but it fell through because REAL wanted access to all Apple's QT code, but would not give up any of the REALplayer code to Apple.

    It appears he is just looking for ANY publicity at all for REAL.

    But of course, there is no such thing as "bad" publicity!

  • Why would anyone want to team up with Real? Their player sucks, the format, which boasts crystal clear quality audio and vido, comes nothing close to something like Quicktime. If anything, they're the bottom rung of digital media companies. Why would the big wigs want to team up with someone so small and insignificant?

    Do they even make a profit from anything OTHER than Ad revenue? Both Apple AND MS should give them a big, "Go away," so we can be done with them once and for all. They're struggling here.
  • Real is one of the worst things to install on a Windows machine. I only do it when needed and then uninstall it but friends and relatives I support don't know any better.

  • by Dixie_Flatline (5077) <vincent,jan,goh&gmail,com> on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:48AM (#8870004) Homepage
    I initially thought this was a good idea. Real gets a lot of credibility, and Apple gets someone else to sell songs for their iPod.

    Then I started to think about the competing stores. It doesn't really do either of them any good to be selling the same songs, usually at the same price. I suppose it DOES give incentive to each of them to differentiate from the other store, but that's on TOP of the work that they have to do to offer more than the stores that use WMA.

    I think Real's best proposition would be to somehow license the iTunes music store. Rather than set up a whole store on their own which is a huge waste of money - and arguably unsustanable - they could make it so it's possible to buy from the iTMS through their player. Steve would have to hand down some strict interface guidelines, but suddenly the Real player would have a lot of ACTUAL value added. Starting up their own store kind of looks like value added, but it's really just a gimmick when it's so hard to make money, do it properly, sell good music, etc.
  • and if they look to microsoft and microsoft turns them down then Real is dead and may actually go away...sounds like a good thing to me...
  • Well... (Score:2, Funny)

    by MrNonchalant (767683)
    This [antifork.org] sums up why apple should just say "no."
  • by artemis67 (93453) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:51AM (#8870046)
    Maybe I'm missing something, but if Real switches over to WMA, then why even bother with RealPlayer?

    At first, I thought an Apple/Real alliance might be a good thing. After all, it's well known that iTMS is a loss-leader for Apple, so why not let Real have a share of the red ink?

    However, if Real is trying to form an alliance, it can only mean that they believe that they are in trouble. In that case, having no alliance would mean that the market would only shake out Real that much more quickly, leaving Apple and Microsoft as the sole competitors.

    Still, Apple is not good at forming strategic alliances. They always underestimate Microsoft. Always. An alliance with Real might slow Real's departure, but it also might slow Microsoft's advance, and for that reason should be seriously considered.

    But here we have Glasser insulting Jobs in the press. Gee, when was the last time YOU were won over by public insults.

    So yeah, Jobs should probably accept, but he's not gonna, because he's got too much pride.
  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:56AM (#8870138) Homepage Journal
    April, 2004 [bbc.co.uk]
    "... dismissing Apple's iTunes service, he points to Real's Rhapsody music service with 1.3m subscribers - which 'in the United States is number one'."

    July 2003 [wired.com]
    "It's hard to design a better scenario for us than what Apple did. Apple serves only 5 percent of the market, and it doesn't offer an all-you-can-eat service, just downloads. One of our challenges is teaching consumers about digital music. It's great having Steve Jobs get the word out, since we have the best service for the 95 percent of people who don't use a Mac."

    September 2001 [businessweek.com]
    "One of [the] surest ways you could drive Bill nuts was to say that Apple is the company that innovates, and Microsoft is the company that iterates. But I think it's basically true. My goal was to create a company culture that has the same pioneering, innovative spirit that one associates with Apple and that has the persistence, a willingness to go nose to the grindstone, that one associates classically [with] Japanese manufacturing companies, like Matsushita, and with Microsoft."

    Now, to put the current Real/Apple relationship in perspective, take a look at this May, 2001 tidbit [businessweek.com]:

    "Today, Glaser's RealNetworks, with 26 million users, beats out both Microsoft's and Apple's offerings. Apple, which has slipped to No. 3 behind Microsoft, continues to lose ground. In January, the number of QuickTime users fell to 7.29 million, down 8.4% from a year earlier, according to a recent survey by market researcher Jupiter Media Matrix. Windows Media Player had 21.5 million users, according to the same study."

    Sounds like Glaser is trying really hard to make his position look solid, but he sees the writing on the wall. Consumers are fed up with Real's "hunt for the free download" tactics, and aren't taking to Real 10 the way he'd hoped.

  • by lpangelrob2 (721920) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @11:59AM (#8870167) Journal
    As enough people have already stated, Real hasn't really done anything for me in terms of codecs and technology in about, say, five years. Since people can't seem to get off the subject, though, they should probably know that Real has become a content company, which, since I'm rarely utilizing the full bandwidth of my broadband at home, is Not That Bad an Idea. Really. Yes, content providing costs money, deal with it.

    So they want Fairplay? Apple should ask Real to provide that broadband content. No specifics, but I'll bet that people that own Apples tend to have broadband easily accessible. Apple can choose to pass on the content in their Quicktime channels for free, or bundle some with their .Mac service (hey, maybe I'd even consider getting it if I did that.)

    It would definitely make for an interesting combination.

  • by fzammett (255288) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @12:00PM (#8870179) Homepage
    That's all this is. Real has been slowly pissing off whatever customers it ever had by it's borderline spyware coding practices, and then not even giving better performance than the competition (not consistently and not by any appreciable amounts anyway).

    QuickTime is far superior. Hell, even WindowsMedia is superior. Real knows their only real hope (pun intended!) is to hitch their wagon to a winning team and ride those coattails until the cows come home.

    I personally hope Apple bitch-slaps them back to their hole in the wall, and I hope Microsoft just outright buys them to shut them up (in this singular case I'd be all for that tactic from MS!).

    Real just annoys me to no end, and their demise, bu whatever means, can't come soon enough for me.

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  • Real needs to die. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by otis wildflower (4889) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @12:14PM (#8870427) Homepage
    Real's server model is crap (authentication is a nightmare). Its proprietary codecs aren't good enough to be worth the trouble. Its content isn't worth the trouble to register (and payf for). Helix is kinda useless compared to mplayer, xine, etc. (its browser plugin is useless in konq)

    Darwin/Quicktime Streaming Server is a better streaming server solution, and it's free.

    Apple partnering with Real? Why? Apple should only partner with Real if they drop Real and go with Quicktime. And at that point, why should Real even exist?

    Frankly, WMP is better supported on my platform (Linux KDE/KMplayer/Konq) than Real (the KMplayer kpart bones javascript tests for rm plugins), so what's the point of Real?

    Add in the asinine hiding of the free player, and the verdict is:

    Death by irrelevance.
  • the codecs (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2004 @12:15PM (#8870436)
    Morpheus: BUFFERING...and turn a human being into this. (Morpheus holds up a titty that produces money labeled "consumer")

    BUFFERING....

    Neo looks down and sees a black cat and then BUFFERING.... BUFFERING... he sees it again.

    Neo: deja vu

    *Trinity and Morpheus turn around quick, the fast movement of their heads producing a blurred mass of pixels*

    Trinty: WHAT DID you say? (audio volume goes from high down to low half volume tin-can resonance for some unknown reason)

    Neo: I said... BUFFERING... *screp* *scraaW* ....BUFFERING....

    Trinity: *screp* *sreeep*.... BUFFERING....a glitch in the codec

    FIVE MINUTE WAIT, 86% LOADED.

    Cut to an action scene in slow-mo lots of trails and effects behind the bullets. But it's slow mo in the part where Agent Real comes from hiding behind the grocery bag and shoots at neo.... the part that wasn't slow-mo in the cinema. Directors cut maybe... BUFFERING.....

    POPUP - WOULD YOU LIKE TO BUY REALPLAYER GOLD!

    BUFFERING..70% RELOADED...

    Neo: but I thought I uninstalled you.

    Agent Real: I knew I was supposed to follow orders and remove my files and registry entries but ..BUFFERING.. I didn't. I chose not to. ...BUFFERING...

  • by BigBir3d (454486) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @12:15PM (#8870447) Journal
    Shouldn't it be Apple asking people if their iPod could play other people prop. formats?

    Is Real that bad off now?
  • by The Fanta Menace (607612) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @12:19PM (#8870503) Homepage

    ...cos I'm just going to keep using ogg vorbis and mp3 files ripped from CD.

    Your DRM encumbered, proprietary malware is redundant.

  • by SethJohnson (112166) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @02:19PM (#8872371) Homepage Journal


    My dad asked me the other day why his TiVo can't play his AAC files like it does his mp3s. I thought about it for a few moments, and gave him the technical reason. But then I thought about the big picture reason-- Apple doesn't license AAC to TiVO because keeping it to themselves leaves the door open for them to create a home-media-option like appliance in the future. I think this strategy probably applies to every other opportunity where people want to license AAC...


    Haven't noticed anyone mention, but there's no discussion here of Real opening up their own crap codecs for Apple to use in iTunes...
  • by tommyServ0 (266153) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @02:51PM (#8872859) Homepage Journal
    Okay, many people out there hate Real for their past. I've been using Real since back in the day, too, and have had the same complaints. But, I have been using RealPlayer 10 (the latest update to RealOne player) and I will say it leaves little left to complain about.

    First, the annoying Adware defaults to off, except for alerts relating to software updates. You can shut those off, too (you couldn't in the past) simply by clicking on the "View Real Message Center" icon, then click on "Options -> Customize Message Center" and uncheck Software Updates, then click Save Changes. No more popups.

    And if you're really paranoid (I am) you can go to Tools->Preferences, then navigate to Connection->Internet/Privacy and uncheck all the privacy settings. You're anonymous.

    What do you have left? A great player that can play anything except Ogg Vorbis (which pains me, believe me). But it plays iTunes AAC files, MPEG4, MP3, AVI, QuickTime, DVDs, CDs, RealAudio/Video, WAV, Windows Media, AIFF, and more.

    I bought 7 songs from Real's music store this week and I couldn't be happier. The downloads were fast, the quality incredible (192 Kbps AAC files compared with iTune's 128 Kbps AAC files and Napster's 128 Kbps WMA files) and has the best, most liberal license for its users IMHO.

    I've also heard people say that Real is Linux-Unfriendly. WHA? It's the only company that makes a Linux client. There is no Windows Media Player or iTunes for Linux, but there is a RealPlayer for Linux. In fact, it allows you to play your Apple iTunes music on your Linux box. I think that's very Linux-friendly.

    Happy Real Customer tryin' to keep it real....

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