Nelson makes a very good point:

I'm puzzled by the backlash against RealNetworks for figuring out how to get music onto the iPod. Sure, I think Real makes crummy products too. But they've opened up Apple's proprietary platform, increasing choice for consumers and lowering prices. How does the user lose?

Now I'm all for bashing Big Evil Companies that do Stupid Things, but I'm also a fan of cracking open that little white music jail too. Like Nelson, I don't get why folks are pissed at Real. I've long been pissed at Apple for designing something with such annoying limitations (but it's still good enough that I use it regularly).

Some days I really just wish that Apple would open up a bit.

Update: That'll teach me to post and walk away for a few hours. I've changed "had" to "hate" and fixed the link. Thanks for all the notes on that. Now if only this was a wiki-like system where others could fix stuff that I screw up!

Posted by jzawodn at August 18, 2004 01:30 PM

Reader Comments
# Danne said:

"Why do iPod lovers had Real?"


Feel free to delete after changing ;-) They probably hate that an illegitimate "forced" themselves into the Mac community

on August 18, 2004 01:47 PM
# said:

...They probably hate that an illegitimate company "forced"...

on August 18, 2004 01:48 PM
# Danne said:

...They probably hate that an illegitimate company "forced"...

on August 18, 2004 01:49 PM
# Justin Mason said:

I think the main reason people are so pissed at Real is because they're portraying it as a way to open up the contents of your iPod.

It's not. Instead, you get to add files encoded in Real's crappy DRM format to your iPod, and there's no way to get them out again in a usable-bits format.

No win for the consumer here -- the only winner is Real.

on August 18, 2004 02:02 PM
# Anonymous Coward said:

The reason people hate Real is because their software acts nearly like annoying adware/spyware!!!
They tried to monkey wrech TOO many pointers and pop-ups to their software. Uninstalling the software is a friggin nightmare also.

YOu probably haven't installed their FREE player lately, have you?

Why in the hell would they think people would want extra pop-ups?

Canceling the subscription is B*LLSH*T also. I canceled 3 times and they still tried to charge my credit card each month!!!

In my opinion, that's why they're losing the streaming media format wars. It isn't because MSFT is a good their competition... it is because their software is so f*cking annoying!!

Plus... RealRhapsody™ doesn't even work on a MAC?!?

Paying for software that embeds advertisements is just plain annoying. It is like going to the movies and having to put up with commercials...

Real - go f*ck yourselves.

on August 18, 2004 02:17 PM
# JD said:

Link on text 'makes a very good point' is pointing to your archives instead of pointing to page where Nelson would have made his point.


on August 18, 2004 02:19 PM
# George Schlossnagle said:

I don't get too worked over these things, but Real is very duplicitous in their approach to IP and have extremely shitty mac support on all their products. So no tears from me for their woes.

on August 18, 2004 02:26 PM
# Pete said:

Silicon Valley lefties are such hypocrites - EVERY company is EVIL, except for the one I work for.

on August 18, 2004 02:45 PM
# Victor said:

I think it has very little to do with Apple/iPod. People just hate Real with a passion.

on August 18, 2004 02:57 PM
# rayg said:

nice phrasing- "little white music jail", though i'd extend it beyond music. the ipod could be a platform for so much more. imagine what could be done with tiger's automator and the ipod, if they let people write apps for it. that's the main reason i haven't bought one yet.

on August 18, 2004 03:20 PM
# Jason said:

I think it's just the Apple zealot problem again. People who are _REALLY_ mac people will defend Apple to the death. Don't ask my why, it makes no sense. They seem to defend anything Apple does, even if it would be something that could help them! They are used to being locked in to a certain platform and being told what they can/can not run. That seems to be what they are defending.

on August 18, 2004 03:49 PM
# pjm said:

This doesn't entirely answer the question, but...

John Gruber has been writing about this at Daring Fireball. His thesis is that this isn't about the iPod; it's about DRM, a battle currently between Apple and Microsoft with Real a distant third.

Others have pointed out that Real's supposed "opening" of "choice" isn't available to Mac users. Somehow I find that... not very impressive.

on August 18, 2004 04:01 PM
# Patrick Quinn-Graham said:

I imagine that it is because Real is trying to be the big "Public Defender" when really all it is trying to do is sell it's own wares to Apple's consumers. Thus for once people are actually seeing through a "lets get money but pretend its for peoples own good" type dealio.

on August 18, 2004 04:10 PM
# Phil Larson said:

The reason people are getting so mad at Real is because they are trying to come of as an altruistic company when in the past they haven't acted that way and they aren't acting that way right now. If they want 'freedom of choice,' why can't you access their music store from a Mac or Linux. Both platforms that they offer their player on. If they want freedom of choice, why aren't they going after Microsoft as well for not allowing the WMV music stores to work on a Mac.

Also, the iPod (and iTunes really) is not a closed machine, it plays every format available except WMV and OGG. As far as WMV, they never claimed that they wouldn't support it, there was an interview with Steve Jobs that said they would support it once it made business sense to do so. I don't know about the OGG part. iTunes for Windows will even convert your WMV files to other formats. For the record most of my 50GB of MP3s have come from NOT the iTMS. I've been using them since before the iTMS even came out.

on August 18, 2004 06:00 PM
# Xerox said:

The real reason I don't like Real - despite my misgivings about their video software and format - is the the anti-Apple propoganda campaign. They want to rouse the Windows iPod users in the US against Apple in the name of compatibility. (Ya gotta be kidding, right?)

I'm a Mac user. I live in the UK. I like hip hop. One Mac is the entertainment centre (digitalTV, PVR, DVD player/recorder, stereo, etc.) so I don't have a normal stereo, TV, etc. Thus, buying a CD is a risk and hassle due to copy protection issues (non-standard CDs). If it doesn't play in a computer, it's a coaster.

The iTunes Music Store finally opened in the UK a few *months* ago. I was excited cuz there were 2 CDs I wanted to buy. Unfortunately however, I saw them on the US iTMS. Not available in the UK iTMS. (I guess I've got to blame non-standardized publishing systems by the record companies; publishing rights are different in every country.) I checked this out further by searching through my top rated playlist. I didn't finish going through all 350 songs, but I'm expecting less than 5% will be available for download. (Funny, that's about the market share of Macs. So my musical taste is incompatible; it's not mainstream enough. Wait a minute, that's not funny; I've not bought any music for a year(?) as I was waiting for iTMS to solve the non-standard CD issue.) So I'm wondering how I'm gonna buy new music.

There are no other music stores which work with a Mac. I've checked them from Sony to Walmart and beyond to Real. Windows only. (Incompatible OS requirements; incompatible browser; incompatible DRM. Damn my standards based browser!). I also checked out Real's Harmony. Again, Windows only. (So iTMS is the only store with any degree of cross platform compatibility, and Real's store is locked down to Windows only.)

Did I mention the iPod? I've got 6GB of music on it (and a clone of my Mac). Obviously none of the music was bought at a download store. How could it be?

It's into this context that Real lays out their anti-Apple campaign. (I've even heard talk of an Apple monopoly! I've got to hand it to Apple. The store has been open a month or so, the shelves are not even close to fully stocked, and yet they have managed to establish an evil and unfair monopoly over the entire industry! If they are capable of that, you'd think they could sell me a Pete Rock album.)

So Real wants everybody to get upset at Apple because there are some Windows users in the US who have iPods and fairly mainstream tastes in music, who can't choose to buy exactly the same product from one download store instead of another? And if we don't help these poor people, they will be forced to resort to the inconvenience of burning a CD to remove the DRM restrictions and put the songs on their iPods? The horror... The horror...

It's the exact same product! The people Real claims it wants everyone to petition for are lucky to have an iTMS, lucky if it sells the music they want, and lucky to have the option to choose a different download store. So is no one is actually being hard done by, this must be entirely about the abstract principle of choice, standards, and compatibility?

As far as I know, it seems with OS X Apple has been supporting open standards as much as possible. Most aspects of OS X Macs fall into the world of Unix, Linux, and open standards. In some cases, Apple has changed aspects of the Mac to make it more compatible with Windows, less supporting open standards perhaps than ensuring compatiblity with Windows. It's a Windows dominated world, Macs need to adapt to that reality. Which explains why Apple puts so much effort into making Macs compatible. And Apple has adapted to that reality more generally recently, releasing cross platform software (iPod, iTMS) and hardware (iPod, AirportExpress, monitors).

With OS X, Macs are part of the *nix family. Linux is our cousin. We have similar OSes, we support similar standards, and Linux apparently just overtook Macs in desktop market share. So in my mind, our family is about twice the size it once was, and it's time Mac users stopped using 'cross platform compatibility' to mean Windows and Macs (and Windows people stopped using it to mean Windows ;-). It means at least Linux, Mac and Windows. If Real cared about standards, compatibility and choice, they would be campaigning to get all the music labels to set up a standardized global publishing system, and campaign to get all the music stores cross platform (after having opened up their own store first, or the message might backfire). If we are going to petition Apple, it should be for a Linux version of iTMS (and to reverse engineer realvideo files to play in QuickTime ;-)

All Real has done is thrown the viability of DRM into question by spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Just think of all the UK Windows users with iPods; or the Canadian Windows users with iPods, who are somehow surviving with non-DRMed music (The horror...) since they don't even have an iTMS; or consider any Mac users or Linux users with iPods in the world. We aren't locked in. If anything we are locked out. It's just the US Windows users with iPods, mainstream tastes in music, and a penchant for buying music from the Real music store that are locked in.

The one good thing that has come of this Real fiasco, is that among the users writing comments in the petitions, there were Mac users, and lots of Windows users (and undoubtedly Linux users) and we were all there together, bonding over our shared loathing at the Real hypocrisy. For once, we were compatible. We were an angry mob, but a compatible mob.

Sorry about the length. Take it as a sign of passion, ie. barely contained resentment and rage. It's hard to compete with a multi-million dollar propaganda campaign, and you can't always count on the flash mob power of outraged consumers. (And you can't fit much text into one of those comment boxes on the petitions ;-)

on August 18, 2004 06:33 PM
# Mac Zealot said:

"I think it's just the Apple zealot problem again. People who are _REALLY_ mac people will defend Apple to the death. Don't ask my why, it makes no sense."

It's because we are a threatened minority which the tech/business world routinely predicts will become extinct, which in itself contributes to the likelihood of becoming extinct. No one wants their computer taken away for good. If you are a Windows fan, imagine Microsoft is about to go out of business over some misunderstanding by the justice department and you have to contend with a future where you have no choice but to switch to Linux or give up computers. You might speak out about the insanity of ending Windows. Next thing you know, you're a Windows zealot. It can happen to anybody.

Before the Windows iPod, there were only Mac zealots. Now they can all be grouped together as Apple zealots.

on August 18, 2004 07:10 PM
# oliverw said:

The other thing is that if Real sell all these songs to iPod customers and Apple change the iPod and it's incompatible with Real work-around, what are Real going to do, update everyone's songs? It seems to be a huge risk for the consumer.

on August 18, 2004 07:41 PM
# TDavid said:

Yup, oliverw has it right. The risk to consumer is high when Apple decides to update their next version.

I'm surprised that Jeremy and Nelson aren't thinking about this angle in their blog posts.

on August 18, 2004 09:14 PM
# Radulf said:

Most people don't get the point: It's no problem for Real do get their stuff on the iPod - if they would give up their ridiculous DRM. And seeing Real - the most proprietary of proprietary Companies - waving the flag of openness and freedom, leaves me laughing out very loud. But as always, as you can see here in the commentary, they found some Windows-User who don't have a clue and help Real wave their proprietary flag.

on August 18, 2004 09:59 PM
# Michael said:

I hate Real for all the times they've filled my PC with crap. Flooded my Windows with their little pseudo-hidden programs for 'helping my multimedia experience', when I didn't ask for anyone to do so.

I hate the way they see users.

I hate everything there is to hate about Real.

And I love Apple. While there are slip-ups, they always strive to create the best possible product they can, and I have always loved everything that I have bought from Apple.

Real speak of 'freedom' and 'fairness', only because they're finally loosing the market that they have pulled out all the dirty tricks they could possibly think of to keep.

And I'm laughing all the way.

on August 19, 2004 12:23 AM
# Paul Robichaux said:

I don't hate Real. Instead, I'm busy loading up on songs and albums at the cheap price. Sure, I can't directly put them on my iPod (which is a Mac-formatted unit), but a quick burn-rip cycle fixes that easily enough. If my buying has the coincidental effect of helping them to lose money, well, that's just gravy.

on August 19, 2004 06:38 AM
# RealFreedomAintHarmony said:

Because Real doesn't stand for "Freedom of Choice" if they're only going to support the "Windows only" crowd!

on August 19, 2004 01:26 PM
# Harz said:

Yesterday I found a real alternative to the Ipod. The new creative jukebox zen 20GB. For me it gives me the answer on all the described ipod problems.


on August 25, 2004 03:21 AM
# Dirk said:

Real is pure Spam.

on August 25, 2004 03:35 AM
# ACTIONpack said:

Why don't iPod lovers hate Real? Will if the iPod lovers are Mac users that easy to answer. It's not made from Apple. It's not because Real software is not good or they have adware/spyware in it. It's because it's not an Apple product. I don't know what else to add to that. Mac users always talk about how they use Mac computers because they like choose but when someone else give you a choose that is not from Apple than it's bad. Why do you think Apple user's started a partition to get rid of Real. There scared that PC users will stop using iTunes and start using something else. This is the only thing that Apple have been doing good in business. iPod and iTunes and everything else has been doing bad.

on September 4, 2004 07:27 PM
# comets said:

I hate Real for all the reasons listed aside from their issues with Apple. But I hate Apple and the crappy iPod even more. I hate my iPod. What a piece of garbage! The design is quite cute but I think I prefer a little less pretty and more functional with some features that users can mess with. I'm an oldschool-hacker and it bothers me to no-end that I cannot actually customize how the device display and the tracklisting display. WFT?!? I will never-ever buy another Apple product under any circumstances. I hate companies that won't allow capable users modify the way the native OS works. My needs are not the same as joe average, thus I should be albe to customize this expensive piece of crap.

on September 16, 2004 01:12 PM
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. My current, past, or previous employers are not responsible for what I write here, the comments left by others, or the photos I may share. If you have questions, please contact me. Also, I am not a journalist or reporter. Don't "pitch" me.


Privacy: I do not share or publish the email addresses or IP addresses of anyone posting a comment here without consent. However, I do reserve the right to remove comments that are spammy, off-topic, or otherwise unsuitable based on my comment policy. In a few cases, I may leave spammy comments but remove any URLs they contain.