updated 10:15 am EST, Wed February 15, 2006
Real vs iTunes
RealNetworks continues to fight iTunes' dominance with its subscription-based download service, which has reportedly doubled its subscriber base since 2004. According to a Forbes report, Real and the growing list of iTunes competitors (Napster, Yahoo, Google, Amazon), are confident that consumers want to pay one monthly fee versus individual payments for digital content. Forbes says that Real now has 1.4 million subscribers compared to its 700,000 customers at the end of 2004. The main issue is reportedly the lack of interesting and compatible iPod-competing devices on which to put the digital content once it is paid for and downloaded.
Real is working with Samsung, Toshiba, and SanDisk in order to come up with a viable alternative to the iPod, according to the report. With an enticing enough product, Real could perhaps sway more customers to its subscription download service.
"Real executives argue that consumers are warming to the notion of subscriptions, arguing that the success of satellite-radio offerings from Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio prove that people are willing to pay a monthly fee for music. But to date, Internet music subscription offerings like those from Real, Napster and Yahoo! have yet to take off--there are perhaps 3 million subscribers to Internet music services, compared to 9 million for satellite radio."