If you've been following the schoolyard brawl that broke out after RealNetworks' announcement of its new Harmony technology, you might be surprised that this latest version of the RealPlayer was released at all.
Harmony, which is incorporated in version 10.5 (and will also be in the next version of the RealRhapsody music service), allows the player to manage Digital Rights Management (DRM)-protected tracks and work with various music players, including Apple's iPod. Apple, in a statement, said RealNetworks "adopted the tactics and ethics of a hacker." Them's fightin' words.
Fortunately (for RealNetworks), Apple did not follow up with a legal challenge, so RealPlayer 10.5 was released on schedule. With this version, you can house DRM-protected AAC, WMA, and RealMedia tracks all in one library. You can also transfer songs bought from Real's online music store to more than100 devices, including those that use Apple's FairPlay, Microsoft's Windows Media, and RealNetworks' Helix DRMs (songs are converted on the fly to the new format during the transfer), reports ABC News.
According to the Business, "Real doesn't understand it's fighting a brand battle," says Bradley Peacock, president of Chicago-based marketing consultancy Peacock Nine. RealNetworks, with its complicated downloads and annoying pop-ups, has never been adored, and it is going up against an aspirational brand that is. (That's why people wear the pocket-size device outside their clothing and use the distinctive white earphones even though other earbuds offer better sound quality.)
"Apple offers a superior product addressing genuine consumer wants and needs," says Drew Neisser, president of New York-based Renegade Marketing. "Real was never beloved by its users, only tolerated. Even by presenting itself as a bargain brand, it can't overcome its inherent limitations. A stinky cheese smells regardless of how little it costs."
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