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BBC: Real caught between Microsoft and Apple?

updated 12:45 pm EDT, Mon April 12, 2004

Real vs. MS vs. Apple

BBC News looks at Real Networks and the global roll-out of its latest audio and video player, RealPlayer 10: "for Real Networks the launch comes at a crucial time, caught as it is between the Microsoft rock and the Apple hard place, both of which are pushing hard into the company's market place. Microsoft media player keeps gaining market share, while Apple in recent months has managed to grab headlines with its iTunes service. However, speaking to BBC News Online, Real Networks chief executive Rob Glaser is bullish: 'If having 350m users worldwide is between a rock and a hard place, then it's a very nice situation to be in.'"




by MacNN Staff

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  1. beeble

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Perhaps

    Perhaps if Real had offered a decent player for MacOS, they would have not had Apple persuing them as well as M$. They were always set to clash with M$ but having oposing them is simply a result of their own crappy support of our favourite platform.

    350m users! Each of them has WMP and Quicktime. Doesn't seem like such a great stat now does it?

  1. Tongo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    standards

    I'm caught in the middle of this right now, but it's not the install base of this or that media player - it's the type of support for the embed tag in my web pages where I want visitors to be able to listen to my mp3 files.

    mp3 is supported by all three (WMP, QT, Real) so it's no big deal, right?

    WRONG! I cannot simply embed the file in a page. Windows does not support an unsigned embed tag, meaning I must also define, in the tag, which player is used to play my mp3 files.

    That's forcing me to take sides. Why can't I just embed a media file that any media application can play and let the user decide which one they want to use? Huh?

  1. DeepDish

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Why can't Apple buy Real

    I am somewhat serious, somewhat joking.

    But why can't Apple buyout Real?

  1. koolkid1976

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    standards

    "Windows does not support an unsigned embed tag, meaning I must also define, in the tag, which player is used to play my mp3 files.

    That's forcing me to take sides. Why can't I just embed a media file that any media application can play and let the user decide which one they want to use? Huh?"

    How about if you have three links to the same file, and define a different player for each link? Wouldn't that work?
    For files that download completely before playing, I use QuickTime. For streaming, WMP is my first choice, followed by real. I think WMP has the best control over streaming files. Without all the crezy re-buffering.

  1. Sydney Tsai

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    You can.

    You can set the plugins stuff for the net on the windows.
    but you have you dig thru the preferences.
    Good luck.

  1. Tongo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    standards you can...

    Yes, I can post a single, plain link to an mp3 file and then whatever the user is using will open that link; either in a browser window (plug-in) or what have you.

    But no, I am neither streaming nor linking. I am using the embed tag so that a plug-in can display the media file as a play button. The buffering complained about is actually a good progress indicator for how much of the embedded mp3 has downloaded into the player (autoplay = false). Gotta think about my listeners who are on dialup.

    And yes, *I* can set the plugins stuff for the net. I simply do not want to force my users to go thru configurations on their machine, make choices about which media application to plug in, and instead just embed the mp3 into a page so that when they visit a page with their preinstalled, preconfigured web browser + media application they will see a play button along with an indication of how long they must wait for the file to load. To do that I must specify which media plugin-application they must use, regardless of their browser settings and install base. The embed tag has become software specific, not file type specific.

    In otherwords...I embed an mp3 and tag it 's type as audo/mp3 **and that's all** so that the choice of media player is left up to each user. Some like WMP, others like QuickTime, still others like Real.

    But that only works on Macintosh, and so Mac users are free to choose and I don't have to hand-hold their browser by specifying QuickTime or WMP or Real for my embedded mp3. They choose, and their choice is what plays the mp3.

    On Windows, however (except for MSN's browser, oddly), a plain embed tag doesn't load at all. It will only load if I specify "this is a Real mp3," or "this is a QuickTime mp3," or "this is a WMP mp3," file.

    That forces me to take sides as a web developer trying to deliver content.

  1. z10n

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Ugh.

    Real was pretty cool when it came out, then quickly sucked, and now is making a comeback. I don't know. My opinion right now is that both Real and WMP suck, because they are the only formats I can't get to play natively in my Quicktime player. Launching multiple players sucks. But at least it's not as bad as on windows, where each player tries to take over the others' features. One advantage of the players on the mac is that they are so feature-diluted that it actually becomes a good thing: you don't have to deal with bloated, bug-ridden players.

  1. Tongo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: Ugh

    I totally agree. When RealPlayer (original name) came out, up to version 5 I think, it was a joy to use; both as a user/listener and as a content developer. My page was a list of song titles, alongside each was a Play/Pause button, and at the top of the page was a single status/volume/info panel. It was like a jukebox! Hit any play button and the main panel would "play" that title while showing info such as artist, copyright, buffering status, quality of "stream" for any particular song/artist, and provide a single volume control for all songs. And the compression-to-quality was very nice. Other players were non-existant, and the mp3 format unheard of as of yet.

    Then along came video codecs, and crappy virtual stereo-is-smaller file options, and no basic .rm format encoder for free, and it got worse and worse to install or use - both as a listener and content provider.

    Meanwhile, QuickTime and later WMP came into play. That's fine by me. More options. But then someone broke the support for unsigned embedded media, which killed the plugin model for that platform's browser...heck, any browser on that platform. Now the user has choice, but content does not. MP3 IS NOT A Win/Mac/Real FORMAT!!! It is its own format that any three can play. Why do I have to specify which media player a user must use when publishing my mp3?

    This applies to any plugin. Having same problem with PDF plugin must be an ActiveX control at work, file typing isn't enough, configuring a user's browser isn't enough, must be "just so" for it to work at all. Heck, now even on Mac OS X I have yet to find a Real media file that plays inside any browser - must download file, open it, and it in turn opens the remote file.

    It's the plugin method that's been crippled, consequently it means that, regarless of quality or opinion about any particular media player, the user can only pretend to choose and configure, or have it configure, to use it. Content providers have been drafted into this media-player war. You're either with application X, application Y, or application Z (so that it forces users to choose your choice).

    Oh - and Real version 10, the latest, is now much more friendly and such on both platforms (IMHO).

  1. Sir T Mann Esq.

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    C'mon, we all know that.

    We all know that, as far as players go, VLC is easily the best cross-platform media player out there. And it's free!

  1. markarntson

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    C'com, let's lobby

    As content developers and as visitors we have a voice. Let's use it. Asking questions raises awareness.

    I recently wrote to CNET and asked why there's no QuickTime content.

    Here's the reply:

    "CNET has never supported QuickTime format with our custom video players. We chose to support Real and Windows Media because the large majority of our users use one of those two formats. It is a production time and cost-savings measure on our part. We hope you will view our video on one of these two platforms.

    Thanks for writing

    Jackie Markin
    Executive Producer"

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