SanDisk teams with RealNetworks against new common foe: Microsoft Zune

“RealNetworks Inc. is teaming up with SanDisk Corp. to release a portable music player that more closely links with RealNetworks’ Rhapsody online music service, in the latest attempt to take on Apple’s iPod and iTunes stronghold, Allison Linn reports for The Associated Press.

“Analysts see the deal, to be announced Monday, as a way for SanDisk and RealNetworks to join forces against a new common foe: Microsoft Corp., which recently announced plans to release its own Zune portable music player and service,” Linn reports.

Linn reports, “Redmond-based Microsoft has been providing the technology that allowed services such as Rhapsody to transfer songs to portable music players without compromising the digital rights of that content. But many say they think Microsoft’s plans to release the Zune service and a player made by Toshiba Corp. could make the software giant a significant competitor. ‘This is kind of a way for both Rhapsody and SanDisk to say, ‘Well, if you’re gong to compete with (us), guess what, we’re gong to compete with you,” said analyst Phil Leigh with Inside Digital Media.”

“Under the deal, RealNetworks and SanDisk plan to release the Sansa Rhapsody, a portable music player based on SanDisk’s e200. The companies said they expected the gadget to be available in time for the holidays, but they would not say exactly how much it will cost,” Linn reports. “The player will come pre-loaded with hundreds of songs from musicians such as the Dixie Chicks and Jessica Simpson, as part of a free trial of RealNetworks’ Rhapsody To Go subscription service. Anyone who buys or already has the music service will then be able to use the gadget to listen to nearly all of the songs available through the core Rhapsody service.”

“Eric Bone, SanDisk’s director of product marketing for audio/video products, said the goal of the partnership was to help smooth out the bumps that came up for users trying to grapple with the Rhapsody service and Microsoft technology. But he said the device would still include Microsoft’s digital rights technology, so people could still use it to run other music services besides Rhapsody,” Linn reports.

Linn reports, “Leigh said both companies might be able to do a bit better by working together, but he still doubts the partnership stands a chance of making a dent in Apple’s market dominance.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Adam” and “ds” for the heads up.]
What do we have here? Why, it’s the opening ceremonies of the Also-Ran Olympics! Yawn.

Dollars to donuts, I bet people say “iDon’t” to SanDisk + RealNetworks – MacDailyNews reader “ds” from L.A.

What do Microsoft and SanDisk+RealNetworks have against announcing pricing? Jobs really must have thrown them all for a loop with last Tuesday’s pricing of new iPods.

Overheard in Big Giant Deal meeting:
Glaser (in-between bites): “Hey SanDisk, can’t you make that fake click wheel look more like a glazed donut?”

Related articles:
Creative does Apple’s dirty work by immediately attacking Microsoft’s Zune – September 17, 2006
Motley Fool’s Jayson: Microsoft’s ‘just plain ugly’ Zune a meager offering, not an iPod killer – September 15, 2006
What’s in a name? ‘Zune’ a French-Canadian euphemism for penis or vagina – September 15, 2006
Crave at CNET: ‘Microsoft Zune, all the excitement that brown can bring’ – September 15, 2006
Microsoft’s Zune underwhelms – September 15, 2006
Enderle: Microsoft Zune ‘a design mistake’ – September 15, 2006
Report: Microsoft, SanDisk overstate accessory support – September 15, 2006
Microsoft hypocrisy exposed with Zune: What ever happened to ‘choice?’ – September 14, 2006
Analyst: Microsoft Zune with fake scroll wheel ‘hardly an Apple iPod killer’ – September 14, 2006
Analyst: Microsoft Zune won’t spoil Apple’s biggest iPod Christmas ever – September 14, 2006
Microsoft unveils Zune 30GB player, Zune Marketplace; declines to disclose prices – September 14, 2006
Analyst: Microsoft’s Zune an ‘underwhelming’ repackaged Toshiba Gigabeat; no threat to Apple iPod – August 30, 2006
Microsoft confirms brick-like Zune to be made by Toshiba – August 25, 2006
Microsoft Zune is chunky brick made by Toshiba – August 25, 2006
Microsoft to spend hundreds of millions, several years on Zune trying to catch Apple iPod+iTunes – July 27, 2006
Zune: Apple cannot lose. Microsoft cannot win. – July 26, 2006
Analyst: Microsoft partners zune to be the biggest losers – July 25, 2006

SanDisk’s iDont campaign takes on Apple iPod – May 22, 2006
SanDisk marketing exec: ‘Australians are blindly paying for iPods’ – March 20, 2006
SanDisk CEO: Apple has ‘a closed, proprietary system’ – March 13, 2006
SanDisk exec on competing with iPod: ‘Apple has always been happy with 2-3 percent of the market’ – February 28, 2006


  1. I LOVE THIS!!!

    The market fragmentation and confusion in the market place, coupled with the sting of “Plays for Sure” biting adopters of that technology in the rear will drive more and more people to iPod/iTunes!

    I especailly love the false info about the Zune working with Amazon’s Unbox – how would you like to drop $300+ on a device and movie content, only to find that they don’t work together and you just got had by MS? That would be enough to drive me to the iPod (if I wasn’t using one already which I am).

  2. Msoft thought they were going to be able to position their player against Apples top ipod and be less $. Turns out they are pushing a brown p-o-s against the midrange ipod and only having a 20% larger screen that is the same resolution, less bright and less sharp.

    If they price lower, they seem like a cheap also ran (which may be the case) if they price at, or higher they seem overpriced and limit the initial market penetration they desperately need to succeed (even modestly). Such is the risk of inept and me-too engineering.

    Jobs put them in a box with no openings. They are just running around in that box wringing their hands and wondering what to do next. No doubt the chairs are flying in redmond.

  3. “only to find that they don’t work together and you just got had by MS”

    Most PC users have known no other life. They’ll probably blame themselves and slink off in quiet embarrasment.

    “What’s a printer driver?”
    “This five dollar mouse won’t work.”
    “Why is my screen blue with cryptic messages?”
    “My computer automagically downloaded some security patches and now my scanner won’t work? What did I do wrong?”
    “What kind of computer do you have?” “It’s a Windows computer.”

  4. Ampar, you’re very optimistic about fellow it-experts.

    Majority would only get to the point of mentioning that it has a screen, a keyboard and a mouse, and oh, it is white/grey coloured.

    Much more surprising to me is that many still don’t know and do something about malware protection.

  5. Warning to Zune retailers: there are going to be a lot of product returns.

    Nobody wants something this lame. So people will buy it, struggle with it for a while, realize it sucks totally and then return it and go buy an iPod that actually works!

  6. It is really too bad that SanDisk is chasing this market. They’re not a bad company but they are being forced into a bad alliance because MS is giving them no choice.

    The real choice is to do something innovative instead of chasing Apples iPod success. That would save them from having to jump in bed with a third rate piece of crap like REAL (there is no future in that).

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