Mercury News: RealPlayer Music Store ‘second-best’ to Apple’s iTunes Music Store

“RealNetworks’ new RealPlayer Music Store gets my vote as the second-best place to legally buy songs online — and that’s not a criticism,’ Mike Langberg writes for The Mercury News. “Apple Computer’s iTunes Music Store is so elegantly crafted that it’s hard to imagine anyone will do better in the near future. But online music is going to be a huge business, with more than enough sales to support several major players, so there’s no shame in having a solid lock on the No. 2 spot.”

“What sets the RealPlayer apart is its unique ability to play the songs on your computer’s hard drive that you’ve purchased from other online music services, including iTunes [Music Store], Napster 2.0, and MusicMatch,” Langberg writes. “The one thing you can’t do yet is burn tracks from other services to CD. RealNetworks says it’s working on a software upgrade to make that happen with WMA files, but won’t be able to burn iTunes files because Apple won’t give RealNetworks the necessary license.”

“RealNetworks says its store will have 400,000 tracks by the end of January, about the same as iTunes [Music Store]. I did my standard Billboard test — looking to see how many of Billboard Magazine’s Top 10 singles and Top 10 albums are available — on Monday, and the RealPlayer Music Store was only slightly behind iTunes [Music Store in selection],” Langberg writes.

Full article here.


  1. “…but won’t be able to burn iTunes files because Apple won’t give RealNetworks the necessary license.”

    I wonder where this info came from and what it means? Did Apple buy FairPlay or do they have an exclusive agreement with VeriDisc? I find it very curious that there is seemingly no info about this out there.

    Also, not to split hairs or anything but didn’t SJ announce at MWSF2004 that they now had 500,000 songs?

  2. I made several visits to the Real store site. Is it just me or did it say $9.95/mo subscription plus $.99 per download plus $.79 per track to burn to CD? I have not joined this service and can’t see any reason to. It’s web site is loaded with advertising and promotion but thin on answers. They do download in AAC but the DRM is different from Apples so intercompatibility is an issue.

  3. I’ve been trying to understand how DRM landscape is developing, and have a few ideas. I’m just guessing at most of it. Please correct me where I err:

    – Protected AAC or WMA files are encrypted.
    – Part of the key is in the file, along with purchase info.
    – Part of they key (unique for each account) is on a server somewhere at Apple, MS, Real, or whereever.
    – The jukebox software (iTunes) gets the key from the seller’s server to pair with the file’s key and decrypts on the fly. Quicktime does this for iTunes, so any computer with Quicktime can potentially play iTMS files. (That’s how Real plays iTMS files) Probably same with WMP and WMA files.
    – Files loaded onto iPod (or whatever) are left encrypted and the iPod’s database contains the seller’s key for each file.
    – DRM computer limitations are enforced by the seller’s server (it only supplies it’s part of the key to a certain number of computers)
    – Other DRM limitations (# of burns, iPods, whatever) might only be enforced by the jukebox software. That’s why Real could burn iTMS files if it so desired, though legally they need Apple’s permission.

    Now, it seems that every online music seller has to provide it’s own DRM service. For those that support WMA, I imagine MS supplies the server service and tracks key authorization and whatnot. Apple does it’s own. For a music seller to use AAC, they have to install their own DRM server and system, or get Apple handle the DRM stuff for them.

    Apple is not inclined to offer that service because iTMS doesn’t really need the competition. Microsoft doesn’t have an online music service (not yet, anyway), and so is quite happy to sell it’s DRM service to other businesses. I believe that’s why most new online sellers adopt WMA, and why Real has their own DRM (incompatible with Apple’s DRM), and why HP just decided to let Apple supply everything.

    Does all that sound about right?

  4. With the rate of iTMS increases weekly by end of Jan it will have ~550k tracks db.
    When pundits talk about Apple they state it does not offer much more wrt to others. Before, when iTMS was slightly behind (certainly not by 150k track), it was reported it was way behind and unable to offer same choice as others.

    All in all, nothing new under the sun it the way they compare Apples to rotten plums.

  5. Even though I believe Rhapsody does use WMA (Real will most likely convert that library from WMA to AAC, ASAP), I don’t think that Real will support WMA much longer, especially since Rob Glaser (Real’s CEO) doesn’t seem to like MS much more than Larry Ellison ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  6. RV142, isn’t it time for you to call some one a moron? I read your recent rant against Bush and I MUST say you are polluting both the macophiles and democrats with your endless and pointless diatribes. You are the skinny to-the-left part of the bell curve that averages Enderle and Strom Thurmond out. Thanks for that but consider what is to the left of you…….nothing but Stalin’s ghost and the guy who phone supports cyrix.

    It isn’t a secret to most here that your ravings about IQ and income are symptoms of the lack of either. Your only recourse is to develop another epithet, change names (never mind, we would recognise you) or bring something to the table besides your usual entertaining, but pathetically obvious, insufficiency.

  7. “I wonder where this info came from and what it means? Did Apple buy FairPlay or do they have an exclusive agreement with VeriDisc? I find it very curious that there is seemingly no info about this out there.”

    I don’t know how the encryption works, but I’d hazard a guess that Apple will not share the server key for the files (and maybe the buyer’s key alone won’t work). I mean even if you know the algorithm you still need the key, right? And reverse engineering the key is against DMCA.

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