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Apple vs. Real battle will hurt online music industry

updated 07:20 am EDT, Mon August 2, 2004

Jobs\' first mistake?

The impending battle of between Apple and RealNetworks over Real's Harmony could discourage users from purchasing music and push them into the illegal world of music file-swapping, according to The Boston Globe: "It's also an incitement to steal music. Only honest music lovers have to worry as they buy from RealAudio or iTunes or the new, legal version of Napster, about which music players will play which songs. RealNetworks' new technology offers a way out: an all-purpose antipiracy system that will work with everybody else's, making it easy for consumers to stay on the right side of the law. But Apple's not having it, because Steve Jobs is a jealous god who will have no false technologies before him.... Since his amazing comeback as Apple chief executive in 1997, Jobs hasn't made a single major mistake -- until now."

by MacNN Staff




  1. paulc

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Seems like nothing more than "Gates can do, so can I" on Jubs part. How much does this remind you of their refusal to license the OS way back when... and we know how that one ended up.

    I actually think they have such trouble keeping up with demand that they really DO want to not sell so many Pods... because licensing their DRM would only mean:

    a. a new revenue stream
    b. sales of more Pods

  1. Person Man

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not the case at all...

    Real's solution relies on something that may not be guaranteed to work in the future, and not just because Apple will do something to "deliberately" break it. Even if they update the iPod and accidentally break it, people will blame Apple for it.

    Apple has enough trouble with their iPod that they don't have to worry about supporting each Music Store's version of "FairPlay cracked."

    Apple could gain some revenue by licensing FairPlay, and Real, by doing what they've done, has cut them out of it. ESPECIALLY if they license their technology to other companies. That is NOT fair to Apple.

    Apple will license their technology to other music stores when they're ready to, NOT because Real isn't playing fair.

  1. slider

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple said No and No mean

    NO! Look, Apple computer has made it clear that this is unacceptable. This is their technology and everyone knows that Apple intends not to license their version of the DRM. Nobody knows what Apple's intention is with their licensing, but that is Apple's business. Realplayer is not looking out for the consumer, they are looking out for them selves. How will this pan out when Apple is ready to license their technology? Why would anyone want to pay for it then. Realplayer is wrong, it's that simple. As far as the article goes, making comments like, "Steve Jobs is a jealous God", this guy is an card carrying member of the Michael Dell, I just hate Apple Computer Club.

  1. Nitride

    Joined: Dec 1969


    No major mistakes?

    Uhm, how about the G4 Cube's insane price tag?

    How about no CD-R/W drives when the entire Wintel industry went to CD-R/W?

    Flower Power/Dalmatian iMac?

  1. jedi2187

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Major impressions

    How about the major victories?

    Introduction of the iMac?

    The intro of the ibook?

    The birth of the G4 and G5?

    The G4 Powerbook?


  1. zzimbob

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: No major mistakes

    You're trying to compare (ahem) apples to oranges. Your examples show style/feature or pricing decisions that didn't work well (and I doubt that the CD-RW drive issue hurt Apple that much - most of us continued to buy Macs and just got external burners).

    The Real issue is about Real hacking into the iPod. You can't expect Apple or any other company in that position to want to deal with problems that could be caused by a competitor's software hack into your product.

  1. MacScientist

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The Bizzaro World

    Hiawatha Bray and the Boston Globe's staff live in the Bizarro World. Apple is a retailer of online music. It is not selling its own product, but rather the product of others. Steve Jobs worked long and hard to persuade those others, the music labels, to allow the iTMS to sell their music online. They reached agreements under certain circumstances. By its hostile actions, RealNetworks has changed the circumstances under which the iTMS was allowed to exist. I presume that Real also has a contract with several of those same labels with very different terms. I would bet dollars to donuts that Real is in violation of its contract with the record labels. If Apple is not successful in stopping Real's release of Harmony, I seriously doubt that we will see the iTMS as we know it beyond the current contract.

  1. rok

    Joined: Dec 1969


    real = hackaround

    period. someone really needs to explain to me why it is so unfair for apple to decide not to license their own popular format... i mean, would this even be an issue if the ipod was currently a flop? and for the last f'n time: the ipod is NOT a closed system for CONSUMERS. and real's argument to that effect makes me sick. if you are a consumer, go to your local record store and BUY THE CD LIKE YOU USED TO. i mean, h***, apple gives you a multi-format encoder FOR FREE. what? you want apple to hold your hand while you do it?

  1. feralchimp

    Joined: Dec 1969


    a couple things...

    1. the current state of the so-called "online music industry", with its DRM'd, compressed product offerings, isn't particularly worth saving...

    2. ...least of all for a bunch of tryhards like Real, who have been trying to years to parlay a couple of great (and a couple of other kind of dumb) streaming technologies into something akin to world dominance.

    3. If people want their stuff to play on the iPod, there's an easy solution: sell it without DRM. If they want their DRM product to play on a portable hard-disk device, develop something people want more than an iPod or partner with someone who has.

    4. Business is business. If Real hadn't been such b****** about providing decent Mac support in the past, maybe Apple wouldn't have raised their middle finger to them when they asked to license FairPlay. They want a piece of a market that Apple basically pulled out of its early grave, and they deserve to squirm over this one, however loud my fellow Bostonites want to whine about "anticompetitive" behavior on Apple's part.

  1. JeffHarris

    Joined: Dec 1969



    It can't really hurt Apple to license FairPlay. It will only create a broader market for iPods as a wider adoption, use and availability of AAC and QuickTime can only serve Apple in the long term.

    A fractured format market, along with battling format proponents, can only help Microsoft and WMA in the long term.

    Apple's short-sightedness has hurt it in the past. History doesn't necessarily have to repeat itself. Instant next quarter profits, while appealing in the short term, should not be the only basis for decision making.

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