Best Buy teams with RealNetworks’ Rhapsody and SanDisk to launch ‘iTunes Store killer’

Today, Best Buy unveiled the Best Buy Digital Music Store, a new service that hopes to compete with Apple’s market-dominating iTunes Store.

The new service, powered by the RealNetworks, Inc.’s Rhapsody music service, features both a permanent download store and a subscription download service. As part of this launch, Best Buy also will carry and promote the SanDisk Sansa e200R Rhapsody MP3 players, which, according to Best Buy, “have been optimized to work seamlessly with the Best Buy Digital Music Store.”

The Best Buy Digital Music Store and the Sansa e200R Rhapsody players will both be available at participating Best Buy stores as of Sunday, October 15th.

“Our goal is to deliver entertainment to our customers how, when and where they want it, and to help them have the best possible experience,” said Jennifer Schaidler, vice president of music for Best Buy, in the press release. “The Best Buy Digital Music Store and Sansa e200R Rhapsody are part of that goal allowing us to provide an end-to-end digital music solution that will deliver unique content and a premium customer experience. Whether they want to purchase downloads or a subscription and have access to all the music, we’re giving consumers the ability to enjoy entertainment on their terms.”

“We have spent more than two years developing the new Rhapsody, creating the best end-to-end digital music experience ever,” Rob Glaser, Chairman and CEO, RealNetworks, said (presumably in-between bites) in the press release. “Our alliance with Best Buy and SanDisk provides an awesome marketing and distribution platform to deliver this great experience to consumers.”

“SanDisk is proud to team with Best Buy for the launch of their Digital Music Store featuring Rhapsody 4.0,” said Eli Harari, president and chief executive officer, SanDisk, in the press release. “This three-way relationship gives consumers everything they need to seamlessly obtain and enjoy their music.”

By aligning with RealNetworks and SanDisk, Best Buy leverages its position as an entertainment leader, its understanding of consumers, and the strengths of RealNetworks and SanDisk to bring a compelling end-to-end music solution to its customers. Best Buy is the #1 retailer of MP3 players in the U.S. SanDisk is the distant #2 manufacturer of MP3 players in the United States. RealNetworks is the #1 digital music subscription services provider, with more than 1.6 million subscribers.
We can’t wait to see how forcefully Best Buy pushes this hodgepodge of also-ran devices and software on their poor customers and how their customers react. On Sunday, October 15th, wouldn’t it be fun if we all stopped at our local Best Buys and asked to see the Apple iPods?

From The Channel Checkers’ article we covered earlier today that surveyed MP3 player recommendations:

MP3 Player – Price – Retailer – Location
Apple iPod 2GB – NA – Best Buy – Astoria, NY
Apple iPod Nano 2GB – NA – Best Buy – Danbury, CT
Apple iPod Nano 2GB – $149.99 – Best Buy – Mesa, AZ
Apple iPod Nano 2GB – NA – Best Buy – Indepenence, MO
Apple iPod Nano 2GB – NA – Best Buy – New York, NY
Apple iPod Nano 2GB – $149.99 – Best Buy – Silverdale, WA
Apple iPod Nano 2GB – $149.99 – Best Buy – Wilmington, DE
Apple iPod Nano 2GB – NA – Best Buy – Roseville, MI
Apple iPod Nano 2GB – $149.99 – Best Buy – Charlottesville, Va

Related articles:
Best Buy test-selling Macs using Apple-trained Best Buy employees – June 21, 2006
Analyst: Best Buy may ‘rapidly’ expand Mac pilot program – June 05, 2006
Best Buy mucks up MacBook photo on website; shows MacBook Pro instead – June 01, 2006
Best Buy now selling Apple MacBook Pro, MacBook, and iMac models – May 31, 2006
Apple Mac mini now available at 671 Best Buy retail stores – April 06, 2005
It’s official: Apple acknowledges Best Buy to carry Mac mini models – April 05, 2005

Study reveals Apple continues to gain share in music markets – October 04, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Dell’s ‘DJ Ditty’ flash-based MP3 player is dead – August 22, 2006
More blood on Apple iTunes Music Store’s play button: MyCokeMusic is dead – June 20, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: iRiver gives up on digital media player market – May 23, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Sony’s Walkman Bean is cooked – February 13, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Dell dumps ‘DJ’ hard-drive MP3 player line – February 04, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: iRiver pulling out of Europe? – February 01, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Thomson gives up on MP3 player, CE markets – December 12, 2005
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: BenQ withdraws from MP3 player markets – November 28, 2005
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Olympus halts production of portable digital music players – November 09, 2005
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Rio is dead – August 26, 2005
Apple’s iPod has blood on its Click Wheel: Virgin Electronics is dead – March 08, 2005
Apple’s iTunes Music Store has blood on its play button: BuyMusic.com is dead – March 28, 2004

Computerworld review: ‘Apple’s new iPods are better than ever’ – September 27, 2006
PC Magazine’s 19th Annual Readers’ Choice Awards for MP3 players: Apple iPod line – September 25, 2006
USA Today reviews new Apple iPod nanos, updated iPods, iTunes 7 (each earns 4 stars out of 4) – September 21, 2006
Time Magazine’s Gadget of the Week: Apple iPod 80GB – September 21, 2006
CNET Editor’s Choice: Apple fifth-gen updated iPod – ‘best, most attractive iPod to date’ – September 20, 2006
Disney’s remarkable 1st week iTunes movies sales should have studios clambering aboard Apple train – September 20, 2006
Disney sells 125,000 movie downloads via Apple’s iTunes Store in first week – September 19, 2006
PC Magazine review: iTunes 7 ‘Apple’s best effort yet’ (4 stars out of 5) – September 15, 2006
CNET Editor’s Pick: Apple’s new 2G iPod nano – ‘sure to be top choice among wide range of users’ – September 14, 2006
Apple debuts new iPod in 30GB and 80GB with Hollywood movies, games and new lower price – September 12, 2006
Apple intros new iPod nano with new aluminum design in five colors and 24-hour battery life – September 12, 2006
Apple unveils new iPod shuffle: world’s smallest digital music player – September 12, 2006
Apple debuts iTunes 7 – September 12, 2006

53 Comments

  1. So, what happened to the Walmart Music store? Or Napster? Or…..wasn’t there a TowerRecords one as well? Amazon? Yahoo? Oh, and the one that Dell had. What happened to those?

    Funny no one comments ever on the Yahoo or Walmart stores……and Napster supposedly is almost out of business….

  2. >>>The Best Buy Digital Music Store and the Sansa e200R Rhapsody players will both be available at participating Best Buy stores as of Sunday, October 15th.

    So, does this mean you need to go to Best Buy to use the BBDMS? Kind of defeats the purpose, dontcha think?

  3. MDN wrote

    wouldn’t it be fun if we all stopped at our local Best Buys and asked to see the Apple iPods?

    Great idea, let’s do it, but let’s pretend to not know about Mac products and them report here with badge names and store locations

  4. “We have spent more than two years developing the new Rhapsody, creating the best end-to-end digital music experience ever,” Rob Glaser, Chairman and CEO, RealNetworks, said in the press release. “Our alliance with Best Buy and SanDisk provides an awesome marketing and distribution platform to deliver this great experience to consumers.”

    translation:

    “We have spent more than two years trying to develop something even remotely close to what Apple is doing. But since we’re strictly a software company we can’t do it alone. Best Buy and SanDisk are also used to being average, so we thought this would be a mutually beneficial relationship. By the way, did we say end-to-end? Just wanted to make sure because that’s something we do now: end-to-end…. like iTunes. We’re end-to-end. It’s “seamless”. It “just works”. We’re all about the “user experience”. Yeah.”

    Love, Robby G

  5. Is that not a slight conflict of interest? Best Buy sells most if not all the mp3 players that are currently available on the market. Now, they are launching a music (which I assume they own outright) and promoting only one mp3 player to work with this service? Not that I’m worried about Apple, but that seems to be leaning towards one hardware supplier/manufacturer and disregarding all the others. And the only worry comes from this project becoming successful with the service, hardware and software all combined and working well together. Seems to be too many variables to actually become a success. The service I have no problems with, the Sandisk hardware is fine too. But using RealNetwork’s technology to run it all? I hate their products, and not because I love the Apple one, but because it is so buggy, a resource hog and so complicated to use and finally figure it out. Guess I’ve been spoiled by the vast richness and ease of use of the Apple solution that everything else is just a waste of time.
    …my two cents

  6. The salesman will also get a bonus (spiff) for every SanDisk Sansa e200R they sell.

    We should all go to Best Buy, listen to the sales pitch, and then tell them to blow it out their arse.

  7. MDN-
    hilarious take.
    I am going to organize a little local party of fellow mac users, including my kids (12 & 14)and their friends, and DO JUST THAT.

    Easy to do. We can hang around at the mall anyway, (grab a bite, catch a movie, etc.), and periodically keep stopping in to Best Buy.

    Start a MOVEMENT.

  8. Competition to Apple is great…that’s what keeps them inovative and ahead of the pack. But these half-assed solutions that these guys are coming up with just pushes people to the solution/experience that has the least friction…iPod+iTunes.
    I’m tempted to just say copy Apples business model entirely and wait for the legal reprocutions after…at least they’ll get it right!!!!

  9. We’ll see how long this lasts. Wasn’t there like a Virgin Music online iTunes killer store or something with a similar moniker?

    It’s funny to see how these PR guys try to spin this and position Best Buy’s partners. Yeah, they may be #1 and #2 in their respective categories, but when you put them in the big picture, their numbers are inconsequential, especially that 1.6 million subscribers number. Frame that with Apple’s numbers (1.5+ billion tracks sold, 60+ million iPods sold, 75%+ marketshare and mindshare, etc) and you see that this is a real grassroots effort.

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