Slashdot has posted 10 questions and answers that they sent to RealNetworks’ CEO Rob Glaser. A few of the Apple-related questions and answers appear below:
Q: Since RealNetworks is all for “compatibility” and getting their stuff to play on the iPod, when do they plan to offer support for Macintosh users in the Rhapsody music store?
Glaser: No plans as of now.
We’re one of the most active Mac ISVs around, with our RealPlayer running on millions of Macs. We also offer our Superpass and RadioPass premium content products, and we offer more than 45 premium downloadable Mac games such as Shape Shifter, Bounce Out Blitz, and Text Twist.
Having said that, since the Mac is such a small part of the overall market, we make practical decisions about what functionality and services we offer on the Mac. So far, offering a music store or the Rhapsody subscription service on the Mac hasn’t made the cut.
Q: Are you concerned at all that Apple might sue Real under the DMCA for basically hacking the iPod to allow compatibility between Real and the iPod? If Apple does do this, what measures are you taking to make sure that the files people buy from Rhapsody will continue to play on their iPod after Apple locks Harmony out using a firmware update or something similar, and would you offer refunds to people with iPods who purchased music on Rhapsody?
Glaser: The legality of Harmony under the DMCA is well established in law. It’s important to understand that Harmony simply added a new way to secure the content we’ve licensed from music companies. We didn’t mess with the locks on any of Apple’s music. The DMCA contains a specific provision enabling companies to create just this kind of interoperability. Take a look at a recent case, Chamberlain v. Skylink, which describes how courts look at this in the real world.
We think it would be extremely anti-consumer for Apple to stop the music by intentionally breaking compatibility with Harmony. In the event that they do, we have a comprehensive plan in place, but it’s not appropriate for me to go into details now. I will point out that Harmony will continue to work for any current iPod user who chooses to have RealPlayer manage that iPod (and who doesn’t use iTunes, a future version of which might be the vehicle that Apple would use to break compatibility).
Q: There’s a lot of spin going on at Real’s new Freedom of Music Choice [freedomofmusicchoice.org] site. Clearly, Real was not expecting such a profound and immediate [slashdot.org] backlash. It must be frustrating [slashdot.org] that Apple gets to be both an underdog and a monopoly at the same time. But despite the feel good claims [freedomofmusicchoice.org] on your Freedom site (did you really write those?), your price drop, reverse engineering, and activism are hardly riling up the public. What have you learned from this?
Glaser: We’re very happy with how our freedom of choice campaign for Harmony has worked. As you know, we sold over 3 million songs in 3 weeks, well beyond our expectations. Moreover, the tens of thousands of users who have bought songs from us and are continuing to enjoy the benefits of Harmony speak for themselves.
It’s certainly true that a small group of Mac lovers gave us a hard time for criticizing Apple. This isn’t that surprising because Mac users are very sensitive anytime anyone criticizes Apple, I guess because they emotionally identify with Apple as the “underdog” versus Microsoft. But for every Mac user who didn’t like our criticizing Apple, there were literally hundreds of Windows users who enjoyed Harmony, including iPod users who sent us their comments.
The campaign was successful because consumers really do want choice. We hired an independent research firm to ask internet consumers about this. 96% of portable device owner said they thought they should be able to move music they bought to any device, which gives us great confidence that we’re on the right side of history.
Full Q&A here.
MacDailyNews Take: Pure PR spin from Glaser; take it for what it’s worth.