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Real doubles subscriber base

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."

by MacNN Staff




  1. ZinkDifferent

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Losing Battle....

    Real, and particularly last-place runners, like Napster, are fighting a losing battle. Telling consumers (and the media) that consumers want subscription services won't make it so, and certainly will not convince consumers who prefer to own their media. As these services' continued existence becomes less and less certain, their existing, small, consumer base will realize the inevitable loss of their music libraries, and depart as well.

    Furthermore, they will find it increasingly difficult to maintain the illusion of growth, currently fostered by cut-throat deals, or nearly free, at-cost, or loss-leader give awayds of their subscription services (as in the case of Napster which gives their service away to various academic institutions, in order to claim growth out of the numbers of 'new' subscribers).

    If these services actually pursued a consumer-centrix approach to their product, instead of treating their customers as a means to an end (i.e., numbers), they might actually see some growth -- actually, Yahoo and Real are taking some steps in that direction, with better web interfaces.

    Lastly, as long as they insist on not supporting iPod users, or (as in the case of Napster) actively alienating iPod users), they will be relegated to an afterthought in the history of digital music - but that's due more to Microsoft not really taking any steps towards a truly consumer-centric DRM, or encouraging viable alternative players. So far, the players offered as 'competitors' are, by and large, c*** (*cough* Creative *cough*)

  1. Ilgaz

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Radiopass is fine

    I use real's paid broadband radio service. I listen to 2 quality radio stations and use "jukebox" like channels like acid jazz sometimes.

    Real subscriber base contains me? I think so.

  1. tindrum

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I did it

    I subscribed to Real's Rhapsody service, so I'm the one that doubled their subscription base. Unfortunately, Rhapsody does not work for me. Which reminds me, I need to call them and cancel before my free 14 days expires. I also tried another mp3 site. At least it worked, but didn't have anything to which I wanted to listen. I cancelled that one too. Apple's iTunes service has plenty of (if not all) the stuff I wish to hear, and actually works for me at both home and work. The #1 status of iTunse is not without a reason (or two).

  1. resuna

    Joined: Dec 1969


    interesting headlines

    Interesting pair of headlines on macnn: "Real doubles subscriber base" and ipodnn: "Real falls short, drops 9 percent".

  1. mymacluvsme

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I'll bet

    that Ballmer & Gates forced all ms employees to join.

  1. DancingBrook

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Ya but

    "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."

    Ya but you already get that, for free, in iTunes.

    I wish these "news" sites would do something more than regurgitate corporate PR BS.

    resuna nailed it with "Interesting pair of headlines": On macnn: "Real doubles subscriber base" On ipodnn: "Real falls short, drops 9 percent"

    Which is it??

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