Mon 26 Jul
It’s kind of a strange feeling to actually find myself rooting for RealNetworks. For years, they have distinguished themselves with software installation practices that have struck me as… well, as exceedingly impolite, to use civil language. I’ve harbored enough ill will towards them that, when given a choice between using their Real Player software and Microsoft’s not much better Windows Media Player, I’ll always opt for the Redmond solution.
But this morning, I find myself actually applauding some of their shameless opportunism. Real has announced that they’ve effectively cracked the iPod. That is, they have, through reverse engineering, developed a means to sell downloadable music that can be played on Apple’s proprietary and wildly popular MP3 player.
This strikes me as good news, though not because I’m hoping that Apple’s monopoly position in the MP3 player market will be eroded. Rather, I see this as ensuring Apple’s continued success in this field. It irks me a little that the company has continued to pursue a digital music strategy that’s so rooted in proprietary hardware, especially given the way that Apple has, in the past, blown earlier leads based on that same logic. Real’s ‘barbarian at the gates’ move gives iPod consumers more choice among possible music sources to fuel their players, and therefore more reason to buy iPods, after all.