RealNetworks issues statement about Harmony Technology and ‘creating consumer choice’

RealNetworks, Inc. is delighted by initial consumer and music industry support for Harmony. Compatibility, choice and quality are critically important to consumers and Harmony provides all of these to users of the iPod and over 70 other music devices including those from Creative, Rio, iRiver, and others. RealPlayer Music Store provides the highest sound quality of any download music service. That’s why so many consumers have welcomed news of Harmony. Consumers, and not Apple, should be the ones choosing what music goes on their iPod.

Harmony follows in a well-established tradition of fully legal, independently developed paths to achieve compatibility. There is ample and clear precedent for this activity, for instance the first IBM compatible PCs from Compaq. Harmony creates a way to lock content from Real’s music store in a way that is compatible with the iPod, Windows Media DRM devices, and Helix DRM devices. Harmony technology does not remove or disable any digital rights management system. Apple has suggested that new laws such as the DMCA are relevant to this dispute. In fact, the DMCA is not designed to prevent the creation of new methods of locking content and explicitly allows the creation of interoperable software.

We remain fully committed to Harmony and to giving millions of consumers who own portable music devices, including the Apple iPod, choice and compatibility.

MacDailyNews Take: The war is on! Wonder which company will win? We also wonder if and when Apple will update iPod software causing Real’s Harmony technology to stop working with current and future iPods. Don’t buy a song from Real for your iPod unless you are prepared for it to become unplayable on your iPod sometime in the future.

Again, to those who would scream about “choice,” you have the choice to buy a Dell Digital Junkbox and use the Real Music Store as much as you wish. Enjoy your experience. We prefer to choose Apple’s iPod working with Apple’s iTunes Music Store and have found no other legal music service/player combo that even remotely compares to Apple’s solution.

61 Comments

  1. Just when you tell people NOT to do something, that’s when they do it.

    Place a “keep off the grass” sign in your front yard and see how many people actually obey that sign. Very few if any.

  2. MDN: you have strange ideas when it comes to choice.

    I don’t want the Dell shit and I don’t want the 128kbit poor quality propriety shit, so what do I do?

  3. Ed… Real is not trying to control the “Fairplay” product.

    I can choose to buy gas from any gas station I want… even if one provides less choice in fuel grades… or doesn’t sell good coffee.

    I will go either where it’s more convenient, or the place which has the products I seek.

    If a song or service isn’t available via iTMS, i will go elsewhere.

  4. “I thought iPod was about music… a la “rip, burn, mix” not iTMS file formats. Gimme a break Stevie Wonderful. Mr. Jobs wants us to have a “digital life” but also wants to tell us how to do it.”

    Of course you have choice. Don’t be ignorant. Buy a CD from Tower Records, rip it into iTunes, and dump it on your iPod, or burn a compilation CD to take with you.

    While the only online store’s songs you can put on an iPod, the matter in which you can acquire songs (legally or illegally) is virtually limitless.

  5. > Buy a CD from Tower Records, rip it into iTunes, and dump it on your iPod, or burn a compilation CD to take with you.

    Precisely my point. Why prevent me from buying music from a different online store, if you let me buy music from different brick n’ mortar store.

    I’m buying music, not files. I don’t care where i buy melodies from… like so many have said about Apple. “It Just works”

    Well, if I buy music, I want it to “just work” no matter where i play it, or whose store i get it from.

    Online or offline, I’m buying music… I treat both products equally… just like if I was buying from the Sears catalogue, vs. the Sears store.

  6. I think that Apple needs to move very carefully here. There are many in the media who could blow this way out of proportion if Apple gets too heavy handed. The last thing they need now as they are seeing wider acceptance is a black eye.

    A solution: Offer 2-3 tiers of quality keeping the lowest tier (128kb)able to work with Harmony at a cost of 77 or 88 cents. Offer a higher tier (192+kb) at the current price but modify the DRM so it won’t work with Harmony. Now you have a choice!

  7. I suspect Apple Computer will break Real’s Harmony every time either the iTunes application or iPod firmware is updated. Yes Real will offer fixes for these breaks but it will become a pain for those who download songs from Real’s store to use on their iPod. As has already been suggested a better strategy would be to offer the choice of 192kbs from the iTMS making it pointless for iPod owners to go to Real’s store in the first place. Those of you lucky enough to own a 40GB iPod should probably be ripping your CDs to Apple Lossless anyway.

  8. well, we’ve already seen how bright the media is…except for a FEW, I use that word loosely, the majority of them are a bunch morons.

    Real is in the wrong. Plain and simple. Like someone else brought, how do we know there isn’t some renegade code that might break the internal software of the iPod?

  9. Legally, the crime.. despite the freakin’ DCMA interpretations…is hijacking a pathway to the glorious iPod.

    What is THAT worth.. is THAT free? Is THAT the same as Compaq’s imitation of the IBM bios…

    No. This is consumer electronics, you can’t tell me that music players are a commodity like computers are…The iPod brand has been built BY APPLE.. and Real has no where near the brand value. So they found a way to technologically ‘crash the party.’

    I will revel in Real’s unfortunate demise after legal proceedings are through.

    Customer choice? How about theft! Customers can CHOOSE to take songs from P2P networks, Real… should they follow in your footsteps and ‘share’ what’s not theirs?

  10. The danger to Apple is that Real license their DRM to others (hardware makers and download sites). Real’s approach has some marketing benefit, “no need to license Fairplay and WMA, just license Helix”.

    Apple has to defend it’s position, like in copyright disputes failing to protect your copyright weakens your case. If Apple doesn’t fight it Real will feel able to mess more with Apple’s business, maybe crazy stuff like convert AAC to MP3.

    Glaser worked at, learned the tricks of the trade at: Microsoft.

    As said elsewhere it may become like the IM wars a few years ago, Microsoft ‘hacked’ compatability with AOL which AOL quickly broke, repeat….., repeat.

  11. DaninPgh:
    “Those of you lucky enough to own a 40GB iPod should probably be ripping your CDs to Apple Lossless anyway.”

    Yeah, if I want about 15 minutes of battery life…

  12. This is the ultimate irony – Real, a company built upon locking away content so that it plays back all low-res and low fi is hacking open another company’s product.

    It takes them 8 years and 10 players later to deliver one that works? But it takes them less than a year to hack another company’s products? WTF?

    Where’s the Real software for conversion from RAM or RM to MP3?

    How about releasing that first?

    I think we should let REAL know exactly what we think of them and their actions:

    http://www.realnetworks.com/company/contact/index.html

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