“RealNetworks made a direct appeal last week to Apple Computer, its Internet music rival, suggesting that the two companies form a common front against Microsoft in the digital music business,” John Markoff and Steve Lohr report for The New York Times. “The offer to create a ‘tactical alliance’ was made on April 9 by Rob Glaser, chief executive of RealNetworks, the Seattle-based Internet music and video service, in an e-mail message to Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chairman.”
Markoff and Lohr report, “But if an alliance with Apple could not be struck, Mr. Glaser strongly hinted in the e-mail message that he might be forced to form a partnership with Microsoft to pursue ‘very interesting opportunities’ because support for Microsoft’s media-playing software seems to be growing. Apple is clearly the early leader with its iTunes online music store, which downloads and plays songs only on Apple’s popular iPod handheld devices. Besides RealNetworks, a pioneer in software for distributing and playing music and video, major companies are entering the market… Microsoft is expected to offer its own digital music store before long.”
“It is against this backdrop that the timing and details of Mr. Glaser’s offer to Mr. Jobs are particularly intriguing. In his message, which was obtained by The New York Times from a person close to Apple, Mr. Glaser asked Mr. Jobs to consider licensing Apple’s Fairplay digital rights management system to RealNetworks to permit customers of the RealNetworks music service to play their digital music collections on iPod players,” Markoff and Lohr report.
“In exchange, RealNetworks would make the iPod its primary device for the RealNetworks store and for the RealPlayer software. The message notes that both RealNetworks and Apple support the same digital music technology standard, known as AAC. But because it is not possible for RealNetworks’ encrypted music services, Rhapsody and the Real music store, to be played on iPod, RealNetworks is considering switching to Microsoft’s competing WMA format, which would make the RealNetworks services work seamlessly with Microsoft’s technology,” Markoff and Lohr report.
“Apple executives would not comment on the message. But it seems likely Mr. Jobs will rebuff the offer. Mr. Glaser said he had not received a response from Mr. Jobs, and in his e-mail message Mr. Glaser said he was going to be in Silicon Valley this week and suggested that he meet with Apple executives today. Mr. Glaser has been vocal in his condemnation of what he considers Apple’s proprietary strategy and he has said he believes the strategy is a mistake. Apple is running the risk of following the same path it took in its development of its personal computer, he argued,” Markoff and Lohr report.
“It is widely believed in the PC industry that Apple’s refusal to license its Macintosh operating system in the late 1980’s contributed to the operating system monopoly of Microsoft’s Windows,” Markoff and Lohr report. “‘Real understands how incredibly powerful the Microsoft music initiative will be,’ said Richard Doherty, a computer industry consultant and president of Envisioneering. ‘I don’t think that Jobs understands this. He doesn’t realize how big the juggernaut is about to get.'” In his e-mail message to Mr. Jobs, Mr. Glazer said that he was reaching out to Mr. Jobs before making a move to switch camps. Mr. Glaser said he was surprised that the proposal had been leaked. “‘Why is Steve afraid of opening up the iPod?’ he asked in a telephone interview. ‘Steve is showing a high level of fear that I don’t understand.'”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Glaser sees the writing on the wall and it says “RealNetworks is roadkill without iPod support.” Steve Jobs has just pumped 807,000 more iPods into users hands in the last 90 or so days. That’s 807,000 more users that won’t be buying music from Real or Napster or Wal-Mart or anywhere but Apple’s iTunes Music Store. The more iPods Apple sells, the less relevant outfits based on Microsoft’s WMA format become. We can hear the average person saying, “Your store doesn’t work with my cool new iPod? Sorry, I’ll use Apple’s iTunes instead, thanks.” This is hardball. Steve Jobs is a Hall of Fame player and, to top it off, it’s his ball.
Real offers nothing. Absolutely nothing. The iPod is the key. As long as Apple keeps selling them like wildfire, Jobs should keep dropping Glaser’s desperate emails into the Trash.
Microsoft has a big problem here if they want to do the “music thang.” iPods don’t do WMA. Apple is currently selling iPods at the rate of one every nine seconds. Microsoft’s desktop monopoly cannot help them here. Do not be afraid, Jobs knows what he is doing; and this has nothing whatsoever to do with 1980’s OS wars.
Related MacDailyNews articles:
RealNetworks caught between Microsoft rock and Apple hard place – April 08, 2004
Real CEO hopes for Apple iPod opening – March 31, 2004
Apple should not let any other online music services work with iPod – March 24, 2004
Real CEO Glaser begs Apple to make iPod play nice with other music services – March 24, 2004